Friday, December 17, 2010

Judge: Cuba gov't bombing reports can be used in Posada Carriles' trial

Luis Posada Carriles has lost his bid to exclude from trial thousands of pages of documents provided by Cuban authorities.
On Nov. 10, prosecutors gave Posada Carriles' lawyers six DVDs containing 6,258 documents in 47 PDF files, along with six video files. The material included the results of the Cuban government's investigation into a string of bombings in Havana in 1997 and 1998.
Posada Carriles’ lawyers briefly had access to the documents in March 2007. For the next 17 months, the defendant's lawyers repeatedly asked prosecutors for copies of the documents, but it wasn't until November that the government finally responded.
In a document filed Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone said she was disappointed in prosecutors, saying they used "questionable tactics." Even so, she ruled in their favor, writing:
The Cuban Documents are clearly material to preparation of Posada’s defense...the government should have permitted Posada’s counsel to inspect the materials upon their request. ...the government has failed to adequately explain why it had not earlier provided Posada’s counsel with the materials.
Although the Court is disappointed by the government and its questionable tactics surrounding access to the Cuban Documents, the Court will not exclude these materials from the evidence in this case, nor will the Court issue a continuance. Posada’s counsel was aware of the existence of the Cuban Documents since 2007 and actively sought access to the materials since May 2009.
Nevertheless, Posada’s counsel never sought the formal assistance of the Court in obtaining the materials from the government. While Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 requires the government to provide access to requested materials such as these, still, the Court will not exclude materials that defense counsel was aware of, indeed had already seen, when counsel could have requested the Court’s assistance in gaining access at an earlier date. Furthermore, Posada’s counsel has now received the materials, and received them two months in advance of
Cardone added that she sees no need to sanction the Department of Justice, as Posada Carriles' lawyers had requested.

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