American pleads guilty to 1984 hijacking

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Miami, May 2: A New Jersey man who returned to the US after nearly three decades in Cuba to face trial for hijacking a plane to the Communist-ruled island nation in 1984 entered a guilty plea before a federal judge.

Prosecutors Thursday agreed to allow William Potts, 57, to plead guilty to kidnapping, as a conviction on the original charge of air piracy would have required a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years.

Potts, who arrived last November in Miami to turn himself in to the US authorities, is hoping US District Judge Robin Rosenbaum will take into account the 13 years he served in a Cuban prison when she sentences him on July 11, 2014.

In 1984, the self-proclaimed black militant used the threat of explosives to persuade the pilot of a Piedmont Airlines flight bound for Miami to divert the plane to Havana.

Potts also demanded $5 million.

Once the plane was on the ground in Havana, Cuban authorities boarded it and arrested Potts, who had expected a hero's welcome.

After serving his 13-year prison sentence, he married and started a family.

Before leaving Cuba last year, Potts told a US media outlet that his intention was to get the case closed and to do so he was hoping to convince US authorities to take into account the 13 years he spent in prison in Cuba.

IANS

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