El Paso Diary: The Trial of Luis Posada Carriles

By José Pertierra

January 11, 2011

Jury Selected.

With a jury of five men and seven women empaneled, opening statements in the trial for immigration fraud against Luis Posada Carriles, will be heard tomorrow. Judge Kathleen Cardone is the presiding judge.

The government attorneys will offer up the opening salvo. Prosecutor Timothy Reardon requested 60 minutes to introduce the case to the jury, and Posada Carriles’ defense lawyer asked for the same block of time. After opening statements by both sides, the prosecution will begin the process of presenting evidence, including witnesses. The defense will be able to cross-examine them.

Upon the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, Posada Carriles’ lawyers will present their version of things and will in turn offer witnesses that the prosecutor may either challenge or question. It will be up to the jury to evaluate the evidence. The judge assured those present that this trial would take more than a month to be heard.

With the jury absent from the court so that the lawyers could discuss all the trial’s preliminary proceedings, prosecutor Reardon expressed his concern to Judge Cardone that Posada Carriles’ lawyer would use his initial presentation time before the jury to attack a country: specifically Cuba.

Arturo Hernández – Posada Carriles’ lawyer – said, “the topic of Cuba is endemic in this case.” He also warned that he wants to notify the jury that he will present “a plethora of evidence on the type of regime Cuba has,” and that he is entitled “to prove that Cuba’s regime lies and fabricates false evidence.”

Hernández affirmed that the government of Cuba has a longtime prejudice against Posada Carriles. He spoke of “50 years of dictatorship and tyranny against the Cuban people” and threatened to present historical examples of “Castro’s tyranny.”

Reardon responded forcefully, “This is not the History Channel.” He stated that the prosecution is thinking of bringing two Cuban police officers and a doctor to the court. At that very moment, Reardon turned to face Posada Carriles. He fixed his gaze on him and told him: “. . . so that they might testify about the death of that poor Italian. Remember?” he told him with his voice raised. Posada Carriles didn’t look back. He didn’t even blink, his blue eyes cold as ice.

Reardon warned the judge about Hernández’s tactics, “This is a judicial forum, not the Miami Herald.” By my side, present in the court, was Juan Tamayo, from the Miami Herald. I asked him if he planned to use these words as a headline for his dispatch tomorrow.

The judge ruled that alleged evidence against Cuba “is irrelevant to this trial,” although some may be offered for purposes of impeachment. This means that attorney Arturo Hernández will not be able to refer to it in the course of his opening statement to the jury which will be limited to the actual evidence that he intends to use during his case in chief.

Hernández seemed annoyed by that decision. He asked to respond to it and to put his opinion in writing. The judge gave him until tomorrow to do it. She will hear arguments on this topic outside the presence of the jury and before opening statements.

Today’s session concluded shortly after 4:00 p.m., El Paso time.

José Pertierra practices law in Washington, DC. He represents the government of Venezuela in the case to extradite Luis Posada Carriles.

Translated by Manuel Talens and Machetera. They are members of Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity (http://www.tlaxcala-int.org).

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