How good is Luis Posada Carriles' English? That has become a central issue in the trial of the 82-year-old Cuban, who is charged with 11 counts of perjury, obstruction and immigration fraud for lying during immigration proceedings.
On Wednesday, Federal prosecutors played tapes of the CIA operative answering questions in English to challenge the defense's contentions that the immigrant's faulty English led to his perjuring himself during the 2005 interview with immigration officials.
Prosecutors charge that Posada lied to immigration officials about how he arrived in the U.S. and did not acknowledge planning a series of bombings in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist. The testimony contradicted a 1998 interview with the New York Times in which Posaada took responsibility.
Defense attorneys have argued the Posada Carriles' English was not good enough to understand the questions he was being asked both by the immigration officials and the New York Times.
On the tapes played in court Wednesday, Posada, who lost part of his tongue after he was shot in the face during a 1990 assassination attempt in Guatemala, is heard to slur whole phrases, including: "In 1960, I had a green card" and, "I used maybe other names too, I don't remember."
Susanna Bolanos, the immigration official who interviewed Posada in 2005, testified on the witness stand this week that Posada could speak, write and understood basic English and that he responded in English for several minutes before an interpreter was brought in.
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When Posada was allowed to answer in either language, he cracked jokes and spoke about his father in English, although he would revert to Spanish when he faltered in mid sentence.
So watch what you say in English in front of your Cuban abuelito. He might understand more than you think.
For more on Posada read: Cuban killer Luis Posada Carriles goes on trial.