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Informant cries, testifies at ex-CIA agent's trial

Informant cries, testifies at ex-CIA agent's trial

A key government witness in the federal perjury case against an anti-communist militant burst into tears before taking the stand Thursday, accusing a defense attorney of sending agents to the Miami home of his ex-wife and tearing his family apart.
Gilberto Abascal broke down without the jury present but composed himself and continued testifying after U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone ordered him to do so.
Abascal, a Cuba native and paid informant for the U.S. government, is key to the 11 counts of perjury, obstruction and immigration fraud against Luis Posada Carriles, an 82-year-old former CIA operative considered Fidel Castro's nemesis.
Abascal spent two days this week testifying about how he was with Posada when he went by boat from Mexico to Miami and sneaked into the country in March 2005. Posada is accused of lying under oath during federal immigration hearings in El Paso about how he reached U.S. soil, and failing to admit responsibility for planning a series of hotel bombings in Havana in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist.
Miami-based lawyer Arturo Hernandez, the defense attorney Abascal accused of targeting him, grilled Abascal about past medical records showing he has suffered from schizophrenic episodes and hallucinations.
With the trial set to resume Thursday afternoon, U.S. attorneys complained that Abascal was in the hallway crying.
Cardone ordered him into the court and asked if he was distraught, to which Abascal sobbed, "My ex-wife and my children called and said they didn't want to have anything more to do with me because of this man." With tears streaming down his red, round face, he pointed at Hernandez.
"I haven't harassed his family," Abascal said. "But he has harassed mine."
He said his former wife was furious Hernandez had subpoenaed her _ apparently to talk about his cashing checks in her name as part of an effort to defraud Social Security. She told him the attorney's firm had sent an agent to her home to steal a picture of her and the couple's two children, which was later shown in court.
Cardone said Abascal could meet with the FBI about his accusations but that "all this behind the scenes is not something that should affect the jury."
"You are a witness in this case," the judge said. "You need to be very careful."
Hernandez then huddled privately with Cardone and state prosecutor Jerome Teresinski for several minutes. At one point Hernandez got so angry that he yelled, "I am a lawyer. I've done nothing except subpoena witnesses," loud enough to be heard across the courtroom.
Posada worked for the CIA in the 1960s and helped support U.S.-backed "contra" rebels in Nicaragua in the 1980s. He also was jailed in Panama for a 2000 plot to kill Castro during a visit there.
Cuba and Venezuela accuse Posada not only of the 1997 Cuban hotel bombings, but also of organizing an explosion aboard a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 73 people. A U.S. immigration judge has previously ruled that he couldn't be deported to either country because of fears of torture.