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NATION : Emergency Stay Delays Trial of CIA Chief in Iran-Contra Case

<i> From Times wire services </i>

A federal appeals court today temporarily delayed the Iran-Contra trial of the CIA’s former station chief in Costa Rica.

The appeals court in Richmond issued an emergency stay at the request of the Justice Department, putting off the trial of Joseph Fernandez in order to address national security issues that are threatening to kill the case.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton told a pool of prospective jurors to go home, saying he would call them back after the appeals court has an opportunity to rule on the national security questions.

Earlier today, Hilton rejected motions by the prosecutors in the case that would have allowed the CIA to protect details of some of its programs and the names of three of its stations and facilities in Latin America from disclosure during the Fernandez trial.

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Fernandez was to go on trial today on four criminal charges of obstructing and making false statements to the CIA inspector general’s office and the Tower Commission. Fernandez allegedly tried to cover up his assistance to Oliver L. North’s secret supply effort to the Nicaraguan Contras.


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