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Mariel Cubans to be Returned Home

December 1, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department announced Wednesday it plans to return five Mariel Cuban detainees to their island homeland on Thursday, resuming a repatriation program that began in 1984.

The five, being held at the federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Ala., were among the 125,000 Cubans who came to the United States in the 1980 Mariel boatlift.

Lawyers for three of the five on Wednesday night were seeking a stay from the Supreme Court to block their return to Cuba, one of their attorneys, Gary Leshaw of Atlanta, said in an interview. Leshaw said he anticipated a decision by the court on Thursday morning on whether to issue an emergency stay involving the three.

The five were to be sent by bus Thursday from Talladega to Birmingham, Ala., where they were to be flown to an airport near Havana, Cuba, at mid- afternoon Thursday, said Deborah Burstion-Wade, a Justice Department spokeswoman.

Some 50 people were to be aboard the plane, a U.S. Marshals Service aircraft departing from the Alabama Air National Guard area of the airport at Birmingham, she said. The party was to include deputy U.S. marshals, immigration and bureau of prisons officials.

Cuba had suspended the repatriation program in 1985 after taking back 201 people.

Cuba had agreed to accept a total of 2,746 Mariel Cubans.

The five were to be flown to Cuba after a three-member panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied their request for an emergency stay of a U.S. District Court opinion permitting their return.

The five had gone to the federal courts after Justice Department review panels said they should be repatriated.

The panels were established in the aftermath of riots by Cuban detainees in Atlanta and Oakdale, La., a year ago which were triggered by plans to resume deportation of the prisoners to Cuba.

So far, the panels have decided that 15 detainees should be repatriated to Cuba and the five to be returned Thursday are among those 15.

The three who are seeking a Supreme Court stay are:

-Miguel Beitia-Socarraz, 28, who pleaded guilty to a charge of second- degree burglary for robbing a commercial establishment. One prison evaluation stated he was very prison-hardened and street-wise.

-Onel Calzado-Garlobo, 43, convicted in 1982 of attempted sexual assault charges involving a 13-year-old girl.

-Rene Maurin-Oliva, 25, who pleaded guilty to theft and battery and whose mental health evaluations suggest he suffers from borderline personality disorders.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon in Birmingham, Ala., rejected appeals from Beitia-Socarraz, Calzado-Garlobo, and Maurin Oliva. Clemon turned aside arguments that the three had been denied hearings on their claims to political asylum in the United States.

Leshaw is seeking an emergency stay in a separate case in which he argues that the Cuban detainees have a right to appeal to federal court the Justice Department review panels’ decisions on repatriation. That right, says Leshaw, comes under the Administrative Procedure Act.

The other two facing repatriation Thursday, about whom no details were immediately available, are Hector Hernandez-Quesada and Angel Meneses- Hernandez.

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