Reports from Cuba: The Jose Daniel Ferrer case: Irregularities prior to impending trial in Santiago de Cuba

A report from Santiago de Cuba via Diario de Cuba:

The José Daniel Ferrer Case: Irregularities Prior to the Impending Trial in Santiago de Cuba

DIARIO DE CUBA reveals the violations of the UNPACU leader’s rights to due process.

The family and the lawyer appointed by the Cuban regime announced that this Wednesday, at the Municipal Court of Santiago de Cuba, the trial of the leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), José Daniel Ferrer, will be held.

Ferrer is accused by the Prosecutor’s Office, along with activists Fernando González Vaillant, Roilán Zárraga Ferrer and José Pupo Chaveco, members of the UNPACU, of injuries inflicted, deprivation of freedom, and assault.

After almost five months in prison (Ferrer was arrested by the political police on October 1) DIARIO DE CUBA identifies some of the irregularities thus far in a legal process that has been condemned by the European Union, the US Government, and the United Nations (UN), among other international organizations and entities. 

The dissident’s arrest

In addition to the violations committed by Special Forces and Ministry of Interior agents, who, in an extensive operation involving some 60 troops, violently broke into the dissident’s building without presenting any arrest or seizure warrants, neither the Prosecutor nor the body charge with the primary investigation ever, apparently,  apprised him of his rights.

Said procedure is not subject to the discretion of the Cuban police or legal apparatus, but rather is an inexorable legal obligation, a guarantee that must be ensured under any circumstances, in favor of any accused party, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter V, Section III of the current Cuban Criminal Procedure Law governing the entire procedure to be followed and the accused’s rights with respect to his statements, and the Justice system’s duty to verify that every party is duly informed of their rights.

The preliminary phase of the case against Ferrer and his colleagues

The Popular Municipal Court of Santiago de Cuba committed the same violation, when, upon receiving the case from the Prosecutor’s Office, it failed –as per Sections 1, 2 and 3 of Article 263 of the aforementioned Law– to return the investigative proceedings to the Prosecutor’s Office itself, given that there had been a breach in the handling of the preparatory phase, due to the mishandling of the formalities explained above.

Derived from the latter, the previous investigations should have been expanded, with Ferrer able to gather evidence in his favor, and because the facts set forth in the prosecutor’s provisional conclusions could fail to correspond to the findings of the case file’s investigations.

The alleged accuser

The video uploaded to the social media pages of Sergio García González’s wife, who supposedly accused the UNPACU leader of the crime of inflicting injuries, should have been incorporated into the investigations for its consideration. And her statement asserting that she had been intimidated by State Security, to persuade her husband to testify against Ferrer, also should have been taken into account.

Witnesses to the events, excluded from the investigation

Nor were witness statements taken from Ferrer’s wife or the other inhabitants of the house where the crime allegedly occurred; direct witnesses that no legal system should ignore, but who were excluded from the process. Hence, they could not be heard at the oral proceedings to take place this Wednesday.

Who attends the oral and the “public” trial?

The Prosecution’s case, which alleges common crimes of injury and deprivation of freedom, is not, therefore, legally authorized to carry out a trial without observing universal guarantees ensuring popular control over the exercise of executive and judicial powers in an oral trial of a criminal nature.

This principle protects those accused from abuses and excesses committed when the justice system wishes to act privately to guarantee “secrecy” and avoid popular censure. Thus, Ferrer’s trial will not be public.

Cuba’s Law of the Courts, and the Constitution in force, state that criminal sentences are to be issued in the name and on behalf of the interests of the people of Cuba, while Article 305 establishes that: “The oral trial is public, unless reasons of state security, morality, public order, or respect for the victim of the crime, or their relatives, warrant it being held behind closed doors.”

In previous such trials, whose true and hidden purpose is to favor certain political factions in Cuba, this principle is violated, as the regime does not wish to allow access to the courtroom by those seeking to ensure that the law is applied fairly.

Session attendees

In the case of Ferrer, in addition, the court was organized by order of State Security, in collusion with this institution’s Directorate of Security and Protection. This mechanism employs so-called “rapid response brigades”, paramilitary groups of the Government, to select workers who are absent from their jobs, recruiting them for a manipulation strategy, to serve as a shield to “confront” any protests.

Together with them, for these types of trials, also mobilized are the “rapid response brigades” of the work centers near the headquarters of the Municipal Court of Santiago de Cuba, and other supposedly civil brigades (plain-clothes military staff, and members of the official Association of Combatants of the Revolution).

In this way, the courtroom is filled with State Security officers dressed in civilian clothes to project the illusion of popular control in the judicial body, while the access ways to the Court are blocked by regular forces by means of security rings, to keep people out.

Any dissident, defector or person suspected of opposition to the regime is arrested, taken away, and prevented from accessing the courtroom.

Likewise, at the door to the court there is an official with the list of witnesses and the names of the people who are to participate in the trial, all of whom are searched to prevent them from entering with recording or filming devices.

The accused’s closest family member pass is subject to the same treatment.

The ruling will not be announced today, as the trial will yet to be concluded, bound to culminate with the perfunctory finding of guilt, though this is supposed to be pronounced within 11 business days.

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