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2006-08-10

Report Rules FBI Justified in Fatal Shooting of Puerto Rican Independence Leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios

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The Justice Department has ruled FBI agents were justified in the fatal shooting of Puerto Rican independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios. Rios was killed in September during a raid on his home. Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez discusses the ruling. [includes rush transcript]

The Justice Department has ruled FBI agents were justified in the fatal shooting of Puerto Rican independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios. Rios was killed in September during a raid on his home. Agents waited at least nineteen hours before entering his home after they shot him. Autopsy reports show that Rios–known widely in Puerto Rico as "Filiberto" — bled to death from a gunshot wound to his shoulder. Investigators say the shooting was justified because Rios had opened fire on the agents. Pro-independence activists are alleging a cover-up. Independence leader Hector Pesquera called the report contradictory, saying: "This confirms our initial claims that they never had any intention of capturing Filiberto, that they came to kill him, not arrest him."

  • Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now co-host discusses the ruling.

- Full FBI report on Filiberto Ojeda Rios [pdf]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Juan, your comment on the report that’s come out of Puerto Rico, the FBI report on Filiberto Ojeda Rios’s killing?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes. It was released yesterday by the Justice Department, more than 200 pages in the report. And interestingly, the FBI Inspector General does admit that there were errors made in the arrest, or the attempted arrest, but he justifies the actions of the FBI agents. And he even had a section particularly trying to rebut an article that I had written in the Daily News shortly after Ojeda Rios was killed, in which I reported that there had been a former Naval Intelligence officer undercover, informant for the FBI, who claimed that he had been telling the FBI for a long time where Ojeda Rios was, and he believed that he could have been captured alive. A section of the report attempts to discount that, claiming that they don’t have any record at the FBI from its counterterrorism unit that they ever interviewed any former Naval Intelligence officer. Of course, they never talked to me, and they never called me up to ask me. I would not have given them the name of the source, but I certainly would have given them the names of the FBI agents in Puerto Rico that my source claimed to have been on a regular contact with, so they could have checked with him. But they did, in the report, say that they had gotten information in the past, and in retrospect, the Inspector General said, had they followed up those tips, they might have been able to arrest Ojeda Rios peacefully.

AMY GOODMAN: And once again, how the killing went down, and Filiberto, how significant he is?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, he was the leader of the Macheteros, the longtime underground guerilla group in Puerto Rico, legendary actually on the island, and convicted of being involved in the infamous Wells Fargo attack of — robbery in Hartford years before, and had been on the run, basically underground, but still giving interviews to reporters and issuing pronouncements around Puerto Rican independence. And he was surrounded in his house in the town of Hormigueros, and then there was an initial shootout that occurred when the agents first moved in, but then they left him to bleed to death for about 18 hours.

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