Pan Am Hijacker Guilty 41 Years Later

By JONATHAN DIENST
|  Friday, Mar 4, 2011  |  Updated 8:20 PM EDT
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Pan Am Hijacker Guilty 41 Years Later

A man who helped hijack a Pan Am jetliner in 1968 pleaded guilty Thursday to air piracy and kidnapping charges.

Luis Armando Pena Soltren admitted he helped hijack the Puerto Rico bound plane, threatening the flight crew with guns and knives.  The hijackers demanded the plane take them to Cuba. No one was killed or injured in the incident.  

Soltren returned to the U.S. in October 2009 to face the charges. Other hijackers Jose Rafael Rios Cruz and Miguel Castro were also convicted in the Pan Am flight 281 hijacking.  A third suspect was acquitted.

"This guilty plea affirms that the pursuit of justice is tempered neither by distance nor the passage of time," said U.S. attorney Preet Bharara.

In the late 1960's and early 1970's, radical groups were often in the news for their repeated hijacking attempts. 

Pan Am Flight 281 had originated at New York's John F. Kennedy airport. Investigators said Soltren decided to return from Cuba to face the charges in part because he was weary from being away from family members still in the U.S.

 

Jonathan Dienst  WNBC

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