Two anti-Castro Cubans who are scheduled to stand trial a second time next month for the assassination of former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier were released from jail yesterday on $200,000 bond each, but under strict orders from a U.S. district judge here that limit their movements.
Guillermo Novo Sampol and Alvin Ross Diaz, who have been in prison since their arrest three years ago, were released from the cellblock in the federal courthouse yesterday just before 3 p.m. Accompanied by their bondsman, the two men were scheduled to travel directly to northern New Jersey to live with friends and relatives. A retrial in the case is set for May 11.
Novo, carrying a paperback book of Cuban history, said in an interview: "I have nothing to do with the death of Orlando Letelier. It's all been a farce. We are scapegoats in the case."
The government had vigorously opposed release of the two men, contending that there was a high risk that the men would flee.
Judge Barrington D. Parker ordered both men to report twice in person on weekdays to the U.S. marshal's office in Neward, N.J., confined them to their homes from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., and ordered their bondsmen to telephone each man every night, visit each in person on Saturday and Sunday, and keep a log of those contacts.
In 1979, both Novo and Ross were convicted by a jury of the murder of Letelier and an associate, Ronni Karpen Moffit, who were killed when a bomb exploded in their car as it rounded Sheridan Circle along Embassy Row in Washington. Last fall, however, a federal appeals court ordered a new trial for the two men because evidence against them from a government informant had been improperly used.
A group of six Cuban businessmen from northern New Jersey, including a bank president, raised $400,000 in cash needed for bond for the two men.