Monday, November 29, 2010

Prosecutors will link Posada Carriles to Cuba bombings

Havana billboard

Cuban authorities have evidently denied U.S. government requests to allow two key witnesses to travel to Texas to testify against Luis Posada Carriles, a Nov. 25 court document shows.
Prosecutors in the Posada Carriles' case write:
  • Within the last twenty-four hours, we have learned that the GOC (Government of Cuba) has apparently denied our requests that Otto Rene Rodriguez Llerena and Mr. Francisco Chavez Abarca be allowed to leave Cuba and appear as witnesses at the defendant’s trial. We have not yet received formal notification of this denial.
  • Llerena is serving a 30 year sentence for bombing Havana hotels in 1997. (We were permitted to question Llerena in Cuba in January of this year – as would have defendant’s counsel if he had chosen to join us.)
  • Abarca has just recently – late October of this year – apparently been extradited from Venezuela to Cuba and faces trial for his role in the Havana bombing campaign. Both men implicate the defendant as an organizer of the campaign to cripple tourism by the bombings and their testimony would further expose the defendant’s lies under oath to U. S. Immigration officials.
I can understand why Cuban officials want to keep Chavez Abarca and Rodriguez Llerena in Cuba. Chavez Abarca hasn't even gone to trial yet. Cuban authorities will make a big show of his trial, I expect. They can't risk sending him to the United States before that trial happens no matter how bad they want to see Posada Carriles convicted.
Rodriguez Llerena is a valuable witness who has implicated Posada Carriles in the string of bombings in Cuba in 1997 and 1998. But U.S. officials have already talked to him, and I imagine his deposition will be available at trial.
As it is, prosecutors have a mountain of files and reports implicating Posada Carriles in the Cuba bombings.
Posada Carriles accuses prosecutors of belatedly introducing thousands of pages of new documents, making it impossible for him to prepare for his January trial.
But prosecutors deny that in convincing fashion in the Nov. 25 document and say Posada Carriles has shown only fleeting interest in evidence against him. The 21-page document says:
In March 2007, the United States invited the defendant to travel to the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and encouraged him to view its files regarding the Havana, Cuba bombing campaign of 1997-1998. Defendant stayed for thirty minutes, left of his own volition, and never sought to return. There was no time limit imposed on the discovery session.
Additionally, in December 2009, the United States invited the defendant to travel to Cuba with one of the undersigned government attorneys in order to interview potential witnesses to the bombing events in Cuba. Defendant chose not to travel to Cuba.
On November 8, 2010, more than two months before the scheduled trial date, the United States produced to the defendant a disc containing the same documents and electronic files which the defendant had the opportunity to inspect in March 2007. These files include reports about which the defendant could have questioned actual witnesses in Cuba. The files comprise 3,252 pages, and six videos, which were provided to the United States by the Government of Cuba.
The Nov. 25 document also describes 1,761 pages of Cuban government reports that will be introduced as evidence.
The first document, entitled - Reports Handed Over to the FBI American Delegation - is a 70-page synopsis of the bombing campaign carried out against Cuba in 1997 and 1998 which provides: (1) an overview of when and where the attacks occurred; (2) an explanation of who was involved in planning the attacks; and (3) a summary of the types of explosive devices used. Of course, the report has been translated into English.
The remaining seven documents give in-depth accounts of each bombings. They are:
  1. The ―Volcan report: a 563-page, four-volume document detailing attacks at several different locations in Havana, including the Melia Cohiba hotel, the Capri hotel, the Nacional hotel, the Copacabana hotel, the Chateau Miramar hotel, the Triton hotel, as well as the Bodeguita del Medio restaurant.
  2. The ―Guatemala report: a 190-page document describing two Guatemalan individuals who were found attempting to bring explosive devices in to Cuba and were arrested at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport.
  3. The ―Panel Kiosco – Hotel Palmeras report: a 190-page document discussing an explosion at the ―Sol Palmeras hotel in Veradero, Mantanzas, Cuba, as well as the investigation into explosive devices that were discovered on a tourist minibus in Havana, and at a booth in the Jose Marti International Airport.
  4. The ―Salvador report: a 382-page, two-volume document covering the explosion of a bomb in the Melia Cohiba hotel in Havana, as well as the arrest of Otto Rene Rodriguez Llerena upon his arrival at the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana as he was attempting to carry parts which were to be assembled into explosive devices.
  5. The ―Chess report: a 55-page document discussing an explosive device that was found at the Comodoro hotel in Havana when a children’s chess tournament was taking place.
  6. The ―Palm report: a 146-page document that includes statements by suspects who were investigated in connection with the bombing campaign, and further information about the bombing of the Sol Palmeras hotel.
  7. The ―Frayle report: a 165-page document providing information about a cooperating witness Percy Francisco Alvarado Godoy, who used the pseudonym Frayle.
Prosecutors say:
The United States intends to prove that the bombings in Cuba actually occurred. We expect no stipulations from the defendant in this regard. The United States anticipates using only the requisite amount of the Cuba documents to prove that these attacks took place. The defendant will have his own trial strategy.
As before mentioned, the United States currently intends to call two to three witnesses from Cuba, and one Italian citizen who was next to his best friend, Italian national Mr. Fabio Di Celmo when a bomb exploded mortally wounding him. The United States will likely call two Cuban policemen and a Cuban doctor who conducted the autopsy of Mr. Di Celmo.
In addition to being aware of the Cuba-related evidence in this case, the defendant was given the opportunity to view the Cuba documents in March 2007. The United States made the documents available and provided defense counsel with a room in which to view the documents. Counsel stayed for a short period before choosing to leave, and did not elect to accept the invitation to return the next day to view the documents again.
Additionally, defense counsel also declined repeatedly invitations to accompany attorneys for the United States when they traveled to Cuba in January 2010 to view evidence and meet with potential witnesses.
During oral arguments before the Court on November 18, 2010, the defendant described this recent discovery production as a set of documents as comprising more than 6,000 pages, many of which are in Spanish and are difficult to translate due to their technical nature. This inaccurate description not only miscalculates the number of Cuba documents actually produced, but also fails to acknowledge that an English translation was provided for every single Spanish document that was turned over. The defendant has ample time to review the Cuba documents prior to trial, and has already received substantial discovery in this case related to the Havana bombing campaign and the death of Mr. DiCelmo. The defendant would not be substantially prejudiced by the inclusion at trial of the information contained within the Cuba documents.


leftside said...

I just want to thank you Tracy so much for staying on top of this fascinating and important case.

Cuba Journal said...

Excellent report, Tracey! I hope and pray that Luis Posada Carriles will one day be brought to trial for his many terrorist activities against the Cuban people.

Tracey Eaton said...

thanks for the comments!
I'd love to cover the trial and get some first-hand material, but my day job will keep me in Florida.
thank you for reading Along the Malecon