[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
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.
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.
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.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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