FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

It Happened in Miami

by RICARDO ALARCÓN De QUESADA

The Court of the Southern District of Florida is not an international tribunal, neither is it a UN body having jurisdiction on matters affecting relations between countries. It has a very specific duty, which is to determine if a particular defendant is guilty or not of a concrete charge. In instructing the jury in the case of Gerardo Hernandez, the Court recalled the language of the Government’s indictment:

“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, June 4, 2001, pages 14587 – 14588)

Judge Lenard pointed out that Gerardo:

“can be found guilty of that offence 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).

She elaborated further:

“To kill with malice aforethought means to kill another person deliberately and intentionally … Killing with premeditated intent is required in addition to proof of malice aforethought in order to establish the offence of first degree murder. Premeditation is typically associated with killing in cold blood and requires a period of time in which the accused deliberates or thinks the matter over before acting.

It must be long enough for the killer after the intent to kill, to be fully conscious of the intent. You are instructed that the location of the alleged murder, as described in the indictment, if you find beyond a reasonable doubt that such offence occurred there, would be within the special maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the United States.” (Idem pages 14599 – 14600).

Such a crime had never occurred. During seven months of trial the prosecutors failed to provide any piece of evidence implicating Gerardo in the tragic event of February 24, 1996, nor could they demonstrate, “beyond a reasonable doubt”, the exact location of the incident–something that ICAO experts had already failed to determine.

It should be noted, however, that Cuban radars showed clearly the shoot-down taking place well inside our territory, that the only remnants were found very close to Havana waterfront and that the US coast guard, having failed to find anything in the international area, asked on February 25th officially through the State Department for Cuba’s permission to search within our territorial waters. The local media – the same government-paid “journalists” that had fabricated the accusation in Count 3 – became nervous and even announced an imminent defeat.

A few days earlier, as soon as the judge made it known to the parties her instructions to the jury, the prosecutors took what they described as “the unprecedented step of petitioning” – to the Court of Appeals – “for a writ of prohibition” because “in light of the evidence presented in this trial, this [the instructions to the jury] 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 for Writ of Prohibition, May 30, 2001, pages 4 and 21).

After recognizing again that the instruction “imposes an insurmountable barrier to this prosecution” the government asked the Court of Appeals to urgently decide:

“That the district court be ordered to instruct the jury that it is not necessary for the jury to find that defendant Hernández 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.” (Idem, page 39)

The Court of Appeals denied the emergency petition and accordingly the district judge maintained her instructions as quoted above.

Some on the defense team were jubilantly celebrating a victory that was anticipated even by the prosecutors.

But it took the jurors a few minutes, without asking any questions, to find Gerardo guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, a “crime” that he did not commit and which the prosecutors had desperately tried to withdraw.

That happened in Miami. In Miami, it is normal to kidnap with impunity a six-year-old boy, so why should it be difficult to condemn a young man for a “crime” that didn’t occur?

RICARDO ALARCÓN de QUESADA is 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.

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail