Monday, December 23, 2013

Convicted air pirate asks judge to reduce sentence

Posted on Sunday, 12.22.13

Convicted air pirate asks judge to reduce sentence

KEY WEST, Fla. -- A Cuban man convicted of air piracy in the U.S. after
landing a hijacked plane in Key West is asking a federal judge to
reconsider his 20-year prison sentence.

Ardemis Wilson Gonzalez was sentenced months after his April 2003
landing in Key West. He currently is held at a federal prison in
Pennsylvania and is scheduled to be released in June 2021, said U.S.
Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke.

The Key West Citizen reports ( ) that Gonzalez this
month asked a federal judge to release him from prison early. In his
motion, he said he committed the hijacking to escape the "mental anguish
of living within an oppressive regime" and meant no harm to anyone else
on the plane.

"Through the eyes of some, I am an extreme and hostile person, but to
others, I am a hero, a patriot, who stood for what is right," Gonzalez
wrote. "I truly and sincerely apologize for these actions, and I say
that in looking back. My decisions were purely emotionally driven due to
my lack of rational thinking and cognitive skills. As a father and
husband, one would or at the time would have done, anything to help (my
family) escape the clutches of a regime that is quite readily been given
the characterization of an oppressive dictatorship."

He also said that he's now paralyzed and uses a wheelchair.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick White filed an order Dec. 11 stating that
Gonzalez's motion constitutes a new case.

Gonzalez used two fake hand grenades to commandeer a small plane in Cuba
in April 2003. He released some other passengers in Havana before
refueling and flying to Key West International Airport.

"We call it the 'papaya in his pocket incident,'" said Monroe County
Airports Director Peter Horton.

It was the third suspicious plane from Cuba to approach Key West in four
months when it landed April 1, 2003.

"I said, 'Yeah, right. April Fool's!'" Horton said. "The tower said,
'No, turn on CNN. They're saying it's headed to Key West.' If you are an
airport director here, you have to be prepared to deal with these
events. These things just happen down here. You gotta be flexible."

The plane remains at the Key West airport, where law enforcement and
emergency response agencies use it for training.

Information from: The Key West (Fla.) Citizen,

Source: "KEY WEST, Fla.: Convicted air pirate asks judge to reduce
sentence - Florida Wires -" -

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