Radical William Brent dead in Cuba

Nov. 20, 2006 at 2:26 PM
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HAVANA, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- William Lee Brent, a member of the Black Panther party who hijacked a plane to Cuba to 1969, has died in Havana at the age of 75.

Brent, who spent the remainder of his life in Cuba, died Nov. 4 of bronchial pneumonia at a Havana hospital, said long-time friend Steve Wasserman, The Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

In 1969, Brent and other party members were involved in a gas station robbery that ended with Brent allegedly shooting and wounding two police officers. He was arrested and released on bail but hijacked the Boeing 707 in Oakland, Calif., before his case could be brought to trial. Brent threatened the crew with a .38-caliber revolver and ordered the pilot to take him to Cuba. No one on the plane was injured.

Brent was initially imprisoned for 22 months in Cuba upon his arrival in the communist country but after his release he worked in sugar cane fields, on a pig farm, as a radio disc jockey and as a high school teacher. He eventually earned a degree in Spanish literature and married writer Jane McManus.

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