Posada trial, Day 3: Opening arguments, the Bill Clinton sex defence

Laying the groundwork for what sounded very much like a Bill Clinton “I-did-not-have-sex-with-that-woman” defence, Luis Posada’s lawyer insisted today his client “told the truth… told substantially the truth on the major questions” that U.S. prosecutors insist he lied about.

During opening arguments at Posada’s trial on charges he lied during his 2005 immigration application, Arturo Hernandez attempted to parse the words “soliciting” and “arranging”—which Posada denied he did in relation to a 1997 Havana hotel bombing campaign—as “terms of art.” 

He also said that during a 1998 interview with journalist Ann Louise Bardach, when Posada claimed credit for the bombings, he was simply taking “overall responsibility as the world’s most well known anti-Castro activist… the dean of anti-Castro opponents” for what was, in reality “an inside operation.”

Hernandez also served notice he plans to attack the credibility of key prosecution witnesses, calling one a “Cuban spy” and dismissing another as a man who had “dated Castro’s daughter.” He described journalist Bardach, who is scheduled to testify, as a “biased individual” and said  it’s a “known fact” that the New York Times for which she wrote the story often has a “pro-Castro” bias.

But the judge prevented Hernandez—for the moment at least—from directly making one of his other key arguments: that Cuba has a 50-year track record of “fabricating evidence,” including at the trial of the Cuban Five and in eight other instances.

Judge Kathleen Cardone ruled he could not use that material in his opening statement. She said the defence could introduce such evidence later in the trial, but only if it can lay a legal foundation for it. “That’s a high burden,” she added.

In contrast to the dapper, avuncular Hernandez’s impassioned hour-long presentation, chief prosecutor Timothy Reardon III, a balding man with a grey fringe who normally walks with a cane but limped, cane-less, during his presentation this morning, spoke slowly and deliberately during his 30-minute opening statement.

“This is a case about lying and choice,” he told the jurors, and proceeded to take them through the chronology of the case from March 18, 2005 when the prosecution says Posada arrived in Miami by boat—Posada told officials he had entered the U.S. near Houston after paying $10,000 to a “coyote” or illegal alien smuggler—to the superseding indictment filed against Posada in April 2009.

Summing up the government’s case, Reardon quoted Scottish author Walter Scott: “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.”

The case continues.

More later…

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