FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Miracle in Miami

by RICARDO ALARCÓN de QUESADA

Havana.

On May 25, 2001, when the trial of Gerardo Hernandez in Miami was nearing its end, the prosecution filed an Emergency Petition for Writ of Prohibition with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The first surprise was the speed – no more than a couple of hours – with which the government prepared this document containing more than forty pages.  Here is how it described what had taken place:

 “Sometime during the morning hours of May 25, 2001, following six days of argument, the trial court finalized the instructions to be given to the jury in this matter. After 1 pm that same day, the United States received a draft copy of those instructions from the District Court. The United States objected to several of these instructions.” (Emergency Petition, page 3)

That same afternoon, the prosecution took “the unprecedented step of petitioning this Court for a writ of prohibition” (Idem, Pages 4 and 5)

What was the prosecution seeking to prohibit?  Let’s read the Emergency Petition:

“That the district court be ordered to instruct the jury that it is not necessary for the jury to find that defendant Hernandez or his co-conspirators in Count Three of the indictment agreed that the murders would occur in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

“That the district court be prohibited from giving the pattern jury instruction on first degree murder and from instructing the jury that it must find that defendant Hernandez conspired to commit premeditated murder.

“That the district court be prohibited from giving a theory of defense instruction to the jury as to Count Three that includes provisions of the ICAO conventions and annexes.” (Idem, Pages 39 and 40)

But it just so happened that, upon drafting her instructions to the jury, the judge simply followed the accusation that the prosecution had formulated in May of 1999:

“the defendant Gerardo Hernandez did knowingly, willfully and unlawfully combine, conspire, confederate and agree with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to perpetrate murder, that is the unlawful killing of human beings with malice aforethought, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1111.” (Second Superseding Indictment, page 14)

One need only compare this government accusation with the judge’s instruction in order to comprehend that the two are identical:

“Count 3 charges that defendant Gerardo Hernandez conspired with other persons to perpetrate murder, that is, the unlawful killing of human beings with malice aforethought and premeditated intent in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.” (Transcript of Trial before the Honorable Joan A. Lenard, pages 14587-14588

Consequently, Judge Lenard instructed that Gerardo:

“[C]an be found guilty of that offense only if all of the following facts are proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

“First.  That the victims named in the indictment are dead.

“Second.  That the defendant caused the death of the victims with malice aforethought.

“Third.  That the defendant did so with premeditated intent.

“Fourth.  That the killing occurred within the special maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the United States.” (Idem pages 14598-14599)

How could the government object to an instruction that followed its own allegation to the letter?

Two years had passed since the government had launched its unfounded slander against Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, and during that time it had organized and financed a fierce propaganda campaign with which the jury and witnesses were subjected to countless pressures, despite repeated complaints from the judge herself.  Since May of 1999, Gerardo had been declared guilty not only by the local press but by all Miami’s authorities and leading public figures.

Within the courtroom, however, the clumsily fabricated pretext unraveled against the arguments from the defense and the testimony from specialists on both sides.  Aware of its fiasco, the prosecution felt itself forced to object to the judge’s instructions or, in what amounts to the same thing, negate its own accusation: “In light of the evidence presented in this trial, this presents an insurmountable hurdle for the United States in this case, and will likely result in the failure of the prosecution on this count.” (Emergency Petition, page 21).

The prosecution, finally, acknowledged its failure.  It was an “unprecedented” action, according to its own words.

The Court of Appeals did not accept the petition.  Nor did it grant the temporary stay of the trial that the prosecutors had also requested.  The case returned to Miami. It was time for the jury to give its verdict.

And it did so with unusual speed.  The jurors asked no questions, nor did they express the slightest doubt.  It did not even occur to any of them to request clarification about the Emergency Petition for Writ of Prohibition.  Judge Lenard had spoken.  They were afraid.  That’s why, confronted with those threatening faces, approached one last time by the cameras and microphones that had besieged them throughout those many months, they gave the guilty verdict that had been demanded of them.

Gerardo Hernández Nordelo was condemned to die in prison for a crime that did not exist; for an event with which he had no relationship whatsoever; for a fabricated accusation that the prosecutors themselves admitted they could not prove and had tried to withdraw.

Despite their defeat, the prosecution won, achieving that which it had sought: punishing an innocent man and robbing him of his life.  At the end of the day, it happened in Miami.

Ricardo Alarcón is the president of the Cuban National Assembly.

 

 

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada has served as Cuba’s UN ambassador, Foreign Minister and president of the National Assembly.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail