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CUBAN TRIAL OF AMERICAN POSTPONED

The trial of an American accused of plotting attacks against Cuba's communist state was postponed Friday so his Florida-based legal team could be present.

There was no immediate word on a new court date for Walter Van der Veer, who could become the first American to face the death penalty in Cuba.

Van der Veer, 52, was arrested in August 1996 and charged with crimes against state security: gathering materials for Molotov cocktails and plotting attacks against police and tourists.

A team of lawyers headed by Ellis Rubin was awaiting visa clearance from Cuba before departing for Havana. It was unclear Friday how long that would take.

The Cuban government had appointed a public defender for Van der Veer, and Rubin's role had yet to be spelled out. Speaking in Miami, he said he considers himself an "observer."

Cuba's Foreign Ministry announced Thursday that the proceedings would be closed to the press, a ruling Rubin said he would seek to overturn.

"I want the world to see what the Cuban justice system does in this case," he said.

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