Source Pravda.Ru

Puerto Rico: denied access FBI agents to probe of nationalist leader's death

The FBI has turned over firearms and other evidence but hasn't allowed local authorities to question agents involved in a shootout that killed a Puerto Rican independence activist, the island's justice secretary said Wednesday.

Roberto Sanchez said his office had received eight assault rifles, several bullet-resistant vests, helmets and photographs needed for his investigation into the Sept. 23 shooting of Filiberto Ojeda Rios.

Sanchez said the items provided "a better idea" of what happened when the FBI swarmed Ojeda's remote farmhouse, but noted that his office still wants to question agents involved in the raid and review FBI documents related to the case.

Sanchez said his office also wants to question Ojeda's widow, Elma Beatriz Rosado, who was at the farmhouse during the raid but escaped unharmed.

"It's very important to have both the testimony of the FBI agents and Mrs. Rosado," Sanchez said, adding that he would consider seeking legal action to obtain the testimonies only "as a last resort."

The FBI office in San Juan did not immediately return calls seeking comment Wednesday. FBI agents shot the 72-year-old Ojeda during a raid to arrest him for the 1983 robbery of a Wells Fargo armored truck depot in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Rosado has accused the FBI of firing first on Ojeda a charge the U.S. agency has denied. Ojeda's death has been widely condemned in the U.S. Caribbean territory of 4 million, where some viewed him as an independence movement hero.

Critics have assailed the FBI for its handling of the operation, especially for waiting almost 24 hours before entering the farmhouse, while Ojeda lay wounded. An autopsy showed that Ojeda, who was shot once in the shoulder, might have survived if he had received immediate medical care.

The FBI has said the U.S. Office of the Inspector General would investigate the shooting, reported AP. P.T.