Cuba Hijacker William Potts to Make First Court Appearance in Miami

Man who spent 30 years in Cuba after plane hijacking to make first court appearance in Miami

A man who returned to Miami nearly 30 years after hijacking a plane and forcing the pilot to fly him to Cuba is expected to make his first appearance in federal court in Miami Thursday.

William Potts Jr., 56, is scheduled to appear at a 2 p.m. hearing to face charges of air piracy related to the March 1984 hijacking of a Piedmont Airlines plane.

Potts was taken into custody by FBI agents Wednesday as he arrived at Miami International Airport on a charter flight from Havana.

According to the original 1985 indictment, Potts was on Flight 337 from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Miami when he handed a flight attendant a handwritten note saying there were explosives on board and that the plane would be blown up if it landed in Miami.

Potts, who called himself "Lt. Spartacus" and said he was a soldier in the Black Liberation Army, demanded he be flown to Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, according to the indictment.

Once the plane landed in Havana, Potts was arrested and he later served more than 13 years in a Cuban prison. He has been living in the communist nation since his release.

If convicted, Potts faces a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life behind bars.

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