[Ppnews] Prosecutor in the Cuban Five Case Refused to Charge Posada Carriles

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 21 11:51:16 EST 2011


http://www.counterpunch.org/pertierra01212011.html
January 21 - 23, 2011


El Paso Diary: the Trial of Posada Carriles


The Lead Prosecutor in the Cuban Five Case 
Refused a DHS Request to Press Criminal Charges Against Posada Carriles

By JOSÉ PERTIERRA

The U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the Cuban Five 
in Miami, Caroline Heck Miller, refused to press 
criminal charges against Luis Posada Carriles 
despite a request to do so from the Department of 
Homeland Security (DHS), testified DHS attorney 
Gina Garrett-Jackson today in court. Responding 
to defense questions, Garrett-Jackson, the DHS 
prosecutor who directed Posada's asylum case in 
2005 said that she asked Caroline Heck Miller to 
charge Posada criminally, rather than simply rely 
on a deportation case. "I asked Heck Miller to 
consider criminal charges against Posada. 
However, she was not interested in that, and 
because of that, I stopped asking her for it."

The Cuban Five were convicted and given long 
sentences in Miami for conspiracy to commit 
espionage, despite the absence of evidence to 
prove that they had obtained any classified 
documents. One of them, Gerardo Hernández 
Nordelo, was also convicted for conspiracy to 
commit murder in connection with the shoot down 
of two airplanes from Brothers to the Rescue, 
despite the lack of proof that he had any 
knowledge of the alleged plan to shoot the planes down.

Heck Miller is the Miami prosecutor who insisted 
on bringing the case of the Five to trial, 
refused to move the case out of Miami, and was 
instrumental in seeing that they would be given unjustly long sentences.

Incredible but true, as we learned today, she is 
also the prosecutor in Miami who decided not to 
press criminal charges against Luis Posada 
Carriles in 2005: the man who directed the 
terrorist campaign against Cuba that the Five 
tried to stop in order to save lives. These are 
some of the hidden truths that this legal 
proceeding against Posada Carriles is uncovering here in El Paso.

Morning greetings

After a four-day recess, the Posada case took up 
where it left off last week. The prosecutors 
arrived first. Timothy Reardon III entered 
dressed in a blue pinstriped suit, crisp white 
shirt, white pocket handkerchief, light blue tie 
and . . . a red right eye. He told me that it is 
not "pink eye", but a burst a blood vessel. 
Jerome Teresinski, another of the prosecutors, 
and two FBI agents who are handling the Posada case accompanied Reardon.

Shortly after 8:30 on the dot, Luis Posada 
Carriles, accompanied by his bodyguard, entered 
the courtroom with one of his attorneys, Felipe 
Millan. Everyone exchanged cordial good mornings.

When Hernández, the main defense attorney 
entered, Posada stood up, agitated. "I have to 
talk to you," he said. They went into the hallway to speak privately.

A Posada or a Picasso?

We began at 9:10 a.m. Before calling for the 
jury, there were certain preliminary matters to 
be decided. Posada is accused of perjury for 
lying to U.S. immigration authorities on the 
things he told the New York Times during an 
interview he gave to the journalists Ann Louise 
Bardach and Larry Rohter in 1998. Specifically, 
whether he had been the mastermind of a 
conspiracy to detonate bombs in Havana in 1997, 
one of which killed an Italian tourist named 
Fabio Di Celmo. Posada now denies saying that to the journalists.

To show that Posada was satisfied with Bardach's 
interview, the prosecution subpoenaed a painting 
of his that Luis Posada Carriles had given her.

Prosecutors want to show the jury that Posada was 
so pleased with his meeting with the journalist 
that he gave her a painting, and even dedicated 
it on June 8, 1998, "To my friend Ana, who 
understands our cause for a free Cuba."

Bardach opposes having to loan her "valuable work 
of art" for purposes of this trial, because it 
would deprive her of the ability to enjoy the 
aesthetic value of the piece for a stretch of 
time, and because transporting the painting would 
be inconvenient to her. The painting measures six 
feet square. Ms. Bardach filed a motion in which 
she offered to send photos instead of the 
painting. "The motion is silly," said Reardon to 
the judge this morning. "It is not up to Ms. 
Bardach to decide what evidence the prosecution 
will show the jury," he added. However, in an 
ironic tone, he offered to return the painting 
immediately after the trial's conclusion so that 
"she should not be much time without her precious possession."

The judge ruled immediately. Bardach is obliged 
to bring her painting to El Paso so that Reardon 
can show it to the jury and, of course, to the 
public. It's a formal presentation of proof, not 
an artistic exhibition. It's difficult to believe 
that anyone with a minimum of taste would want to 
have it in his or her living room. Anyone who's 
seen his work would readily admit that Posada is 
no Picasso. A signed Posada has no more worth 
than one done by a fourth-grade student.

Moving on from the topic of the painting, the 
judge called the jury at 9:18 a.m., and we 
continued with the cross-examination of the INS 
attorney, Gina Garrett-Jackson. She was 
responsible for the Posada case during the 
immigration proceedings in 2005, and it was she 
who questioned him before Judge Abbott.

Under Garrett-Jackson's questioning, Posada had 
said that he entered the United States via the 
border with Mexico and that he didn't know 
anything about the bombs that exploded in Havana 
in 1997, one of which killed the Italian Fabio Di 
Celmo in the Copacabana Hotel. The prosecution 
maintains that that is a lie. That Posada entered 
the country on a boat called the Santrina and 
that previously he had boasted of being the 
mastermind behind the bombings in Havana. He even 
told the New York Times, "that Italian was in the 
wrong place at the wrong time. I sleep like a baby."

Gina Garrett-Jackson's testimony

Posada's attorney, Felipe Millan, a specialist in 
immigration cases, maintains that Garrett-Jackson 
entrapped Posada Carriles. That she wanted to try 
him for perjury and had no interest in 
immigration proceedings. Millan cross-examined 
her closely about the prosecutors and federal 
agents that collaborated with Garrett-Jackson in 
2005 on the Posada case. The list is long: 1) 
Noel Espada, an INS agent who went to Guatemala 
to interview witnesses; 2) a prosecutor by the 
name of López who accompanied Espada to 
Guatemala; 3) an INS agent named Capanelli, who 
kept up with the case through emails sent to him 
by Garrett-Jackson; 4) Steve Usher, another INS 
agent; 5) Chris Torres, another INS analyst; 6) 
Joel Ardiner, who works in the main immigration 
office in Washington, in the office of National 
Security Law; 7) Riah Ramlogan, the main 
immigration attorney in Miami; 8) Omar Vega of 
the FBI; 9) Mr. Rice, of the FBI; 10) Mr. 
Pereira, also of the FBI, and 11) Caroline Heck 
Miller, the federal prosecutor in Miami in charge 
of the Cuban Five case, and of whom 
Garrett-Jackson requested that criminal charges 
be presented against Posada and inexplicably refused to do so.

Garrett-Jackson also made reference to Posada 
Carriles' star witness during his asylum 
proceedings, Joaquín Chaffardet. During her 
cross-examination, she said that she recalled 
that Chaffardet testified during the day of 
August 30, 2005, that Posada would be tortured in 
Venezuela if he were deported there. Millan did 
not ask Garrett-Jackson why she had not cross-examined Chaffardet.

Chaffardet's testimony was key in the 2005 asylum 
case. He told the judge that Venezuela tortures 
its prisoners, that Cuban agents would go to 
Venezuela to torture Posada Carriles and that the 
Venezuelan government would allow it. If 
Garrett-Jackson had questioned him, perhaps the 
judge might have realized that Chaffardet was a 
witness biased in favor of Posada, because the 
"witness" was the Cuban-Venezuelan's boss when he 
worked for the Venezuelan intelligence services, 
was later his attorney in Caracas, and still 
later, charged -- in 1985 -- for having helped 
Posada Carriles escape from prison in San Juan de 
los Moros before the conclusion of the trial 
against him on 73 charges of murder resulting 
from blowing up a passenger airliner.

As a witness, Garrett-Jackson is slow, laborious, 
and boring. She tends to give long explanations 
and to not answer questions precisely. She is 
prone to meandering responses to questions that 
exasperate everyone. However, when Millan told 
her that she was looking for ways to entrap 
Posada with criminal perjury charges and this was 
why she asked him so many questions in 2005 about 
how he had entered the United States, 
Garrett-Jackson came to life, raised her voice, 
and said firmly, "After having seen him, I asked 
myself, 'Is it possible that he crossed the Rio 
Grande?' That's why I asked those questions, not for any other reason."

Posada is 83 years old and walks with certain 
difficulty. He does not appear to any longer have 
the strength his victims in Venezuela recall: 
that of a man capable of rupturing a liver with a 
single punch or forcing a pregnant woman to 
deliver with a single kick. I don't say this figuratively. It happened.

The immigration judge in 2005 ordered Posada 
Carriles to be deported, but not to Cuba or to 
Venezuela, because he said Posada would be 
tortured in both countries. Garrett-Jackson said 
that she had decided not to appeal that decision, 
after having consulted with her superiors.

María Semeraro's testimony

The second witness of the day was María Semeraro. 
A 52-year-old woman, tall, strong, with a 
burgundy colored mini-skirt, and curly bleached 
blond hair. She testified that she is Cuban 
American, and that she arrived in the United 
States at the age of nine. She works for the FBI as a translator-transcriber.

It was she who transcribed the recordings of the 
asylum proceedings that took place in 2005. 
Bridget Behling, from the prosecution's legal 
team, got Semeraro to declare before the jury 
that the transcriptions they have are legitimate 
and reflect the recordings that were made during 
the immigration proceedings between June and August of 2005.

"Art" Hernández, Posada Carriles's attorney, got 
Semeraro to admit that she could hear the voices 
of Posada Carriles, those of the two attorneys 
and the judge, but not that of the interpreter 
when English was being translated into Spanish, 
since the interpreter directed the interpretation 
solely to Posada Carriles and in a very low 
voice. He also got Semeraro to acknowledge that 
words can be translated in different ways.

The judge ended the proceedings at this point. 
The case will continue Wednesday, at 8:30 a.m.

Side notes

Venezuela is not authorized to ask questions 
during this proceeding. We can only observe. I 
would have liked Gina Garrett-Jackson to answer the following:

1. You testified that you concluded that Posada 
Carriles would be tortured if he were deported to 
Cuba, but that you arrived at that conclusion 
without first receiving any evidence and before 
hearing any testimony. Why? On what did you base your decision?

2. What evidence do you have that, apart from 
those who are held at the U.S. military base in 
Guantánamo, prisoners are tortured in Cuba?

3. Why did you decide not to cross-examine 
Joaquín Chaffardet during the asylum case in August of 2005?

4. Do you think it unimportant to make the 
immigration judge aware that Chaffardet was a 
biased witness in favor of Posada Carriles?

5. Do you think it was unimportant to establish 
that Chaffardet was Posada's boss at the DISIP 
(Venezuelan Intelligence) in the early 1970s, 
Posada's attorney in Caracas, and that he was 
charged in Venezuela for having helped Posada escape from prison?

6. During the asylum proceedings in 2005, every 
time that an important decision had to be made, 
you asked for a recess and made a call on your 
cell phone. Who were you calling? What 
instructions did you receive? Who was in charge 
of strategy in the immigration case of Luis Posada Carriles?

7. You testified that you work for the Department 
of Homeland Security in Miami. Posada's asylum 
case was in El Paso. Who decided to send you to 
El Paso to litigate it? Why? Have you worked on 
other cases in El Paso, or is this your first and the last?

8. The recordings from Posada's asylum case show 
that you did not utilize information from the 
records of the federal government to question 
him. That you only used the interview that he 
gave the New York Times. Why? Did you not have 
any FBI records at your disposal?

9. Cuba gave the FBI proof about Posada Carriles' 
involvement in the bombing campaign in Havana. 
Did the FBI share these documents with you? If so, why didn't you use them?

10. Why didn't you present witnesses against 
Posada Carriles during the asylum proceedings of 
2005? Did you speak with the FBI about having 
agents who had knowledge of Posada Carriles' terrorist history testify?

11. Do you know that Caroline Heck Miller is the 
principal prosecutor in the case of the Cuban 
Five? Do you know who the Five are? Do you know 
that they were convicted in Miami, in what a 
three-judge panel in the Circuit Court in Atlanta 
said was a "perfect storm of prejudice"?

12. Do you know the reasons that Caroline Heck 
Miller didn't want to bring criminal charges 
against Posada Carriles? What opinion do you have of that decision?

13. What was the true purpose of the immigration 
proceedings in 2005: to protect or to prosecute him?

José Pertierra practices law in Washington, DC. 
He represents the government of Venezuela in the 
case to extradite Luis Posada Carriles.

Translated by Machetera. She is a member of 
Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity.




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