Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cuban cooperation baffles U.S. officials

This cable describes prosecutors' May 2009 trip to Cuba to interview witnesses in an immigrant-smuggling case. It briefly mentions the FBI's 2007 visit to interview witnesses in the Posada Carriles case.

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09HAVANA278 2009-05-14 18:06 2010-12-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL US Interests Section Havana

VZCZCXYZ0021
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUB #0278 1341836
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 141836Z MAY 09
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4387
INFO RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/COGARD INTELCOORDCEN WASHINGTON DC
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/NAVINTELOFC GUANTANAMO BAY CU

C O N F I D E N T I A L HAVANA 000278

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2014
TAGS: PREL SNAR ASEC PGOV CU
SUBJECT: U.S. LEGAL TEAM SUCCESSFULLY CONDUCTS WITNESS
DEPOSITIONS IN CUBA

Classified By: CHG: James L Williams for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (SBU) A team made up of prosecutors from the US
Attorney's Office from the Southern District of Florida,
public defenders assigned to the defendants in two criminal
alien smuggling cases, a court reporter, videographer, two
interpreters and two DHS/ICE agents traveled to Cuba May 6 to
take court-ordered depositions from 10 Cuban citizens
connected to the two smuggling cases.

¶2. (SBU) The GOC granted formal approval for the travel of
the group, provided the team members with visas, and offered
one of the Ministry of Interior's (MININT) "protocol houses"
in the suburb of Siboney to hold the depositions. The GOC
also undertook to find the 10 witnesses desired by the court.
In the end, the GOC reported that two of the witnesses had
once again departed for the U.S. and had apparently succeeded
in their renewed attempt. Another was preparing for an
interview with the Refugee Unit of the Interests Section, and
declined to testify out of fear he would put his refugee
status at risk. The remaining seven witnesses were brought
to the protocol house in the order requested by the team.
Space was provided in a separate area of the house for
defense counsels to speak with the witnesses before they
began their testimony. GOC officials told the team there
would be no problem in their taking and recording testimony
from the witnesses for as long as needed, and that the court
reporter would be permitted to swear in the witnesses. MININT
provided food and refreshments to the team, which dedicated
two complete days (May 7-8) to taking the depositions. When
they had completed their work, members of the team expressed
satisfaction with the deposition-taking process.

¶3. (C) COMMENT: This is the first time in the memory of
anyone presently at USINT that such a complete process of
deposing witnesses has been carried out. The last time USG
officials came to Cuba to take depositions was in 2007 when
FBI personnel took depositions from Cuban citizens regarding
the Posada-Carriles case. Both MININT and MINREX personnel
who were present throughout the depositions were cordial and
helpful to the team members and to USINT personnel who
accompanied them. During the process, the GOC officials
observed some fairly intense cross-examination of the
witnesses by the attorneys on both sides. This provoked some
conversation about the technical issues of the US judicial
system between the MININT officers and, USINT and AUSA
personnel.

¶4. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: We are not sure why the GOC
decided to be as cooperative as it was with this case. The
GOC officers present certainly picked up some information
about smuggling operations, and about how the USG prosecutes
smugglers that may be useful to them in the future. Whether
this case signals a willingness to cooperate more with us on
law enforcement issues, or establishes an upper limit on such
cooperation remains to be seem, however.
WILLIAMS

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