U.S. prosecutors are calling on federal Judge Kathleen Cardone to reject a defence motion to exclude from Luis Posada Carriles’ upcoming immigration fraud trial any evidence the Americans obtained from the Cuban government.
But the prosecutors’ response—filed in El Paso earlier this week (November 25)—also offers an intriguing glimpse into just how much information the Cubans actually handed over to U.S. investigators.
The U.S. has charged Posada with lying in a 2005 asylum application by claiming he wasn’t involved in a series of bombing attacks at Havana hotels in 1997 that killed an Italian-Canadian businessman. Prosecutors intend to use evidence the Cuban government collected—as well as witness testimony—to link Posada to those terrorist attacks.
But Posada’s lawyers claim they didn’t get copies of the material until after an earlier court-set deadline, so the evidence shouldn’t be used at all.
Prosecutors counter that the original deadline for producing evidence—December 1, 2009—was based on an expectation the trial itself would begin in March 2010. It’s now scheduled to start a full nine months later—in January 2011.
Perhaps more importantly, prosecutors point out that they initially laid out all the Cuban evidence at a March 2007 discovery conference with Posada and his lawyers in Washington “and encouraged him to view its files… Defendant stayed for 30 minutes, left of his own volition and never sought to return.”
In December 2009, the prosecutors add, they invited “the defendant to travel to Cuba with one of the … government attorneys in order to interview potential witnesses to the bombing events in Cuba. Defendant chose not to travel to Cuba.”
Finally, on November 8, 2010—still a full two months before Posada’s January 2011 trial is scheduled to begin—prosecutors say thay gave the defence a disc containing “the same documents and electronic files the defendant had the opportunity to inspect in March 2007.”
Interestingly, the U.S. Attorney’s motion includes a detailed description of that material—six videos and 3,252 pages of text they refer to as the “Cuba documents.”
That treasure trove includes eight separate reports “generated by Cuban authorities” as part of their investigation of the Havana hotel bombings.” One, entitled “Reports Handed Over to the FBI American Delegation,” provides a 70-page synopsis of the 1997 bombing campaign, which the Cubans first gave American investigators at a meeting in Havana in June 1998. The remaining seven Cuba documents provide “in-depth accounts” of individual bombing investigations.
The prosecutors’ brief says the government only intends to “seek the admission of a small fraction of the Cuba documents at trial… to prove that the bombings in Cuba actually occurred.”
Judge Cardone is expected to rule on the pre-trial motion in advance of the start of the trial, now slated to begin January 11, 2011.