By Osvaldo Rodríguez Díaz
In the month of November 2011, the concern and emotional state of the family and friends of an accused person reached an intolerable level. They were shocked at the in-your-face and disrespectful manner in which the press referred to the defendant.
The following appeared in the newspaper Granma on 8 November 2011 in a piece headed Theft and Killing of Cattle:
One of the accused, ex-director of CENOP, in a municipality in the capital city, refers, in a totally impertinent manner, to the insecurity of the control arrangements, which he took advantage of, in order to carry out illegal acts, and he boasted of having got round the requirements of laws and decisions, making use of wide open gaps in the arrangements.
We don’t know how the journalist got access to the information during the preliminary investigation stage, as neither the attorney nor the lawyer, as parties in the legal procedure, were notified of this.
The obvious concern of the relatives of the accused was that this report in a national newspaper could, from that moment, have a negative influence on the views of the judges appointed to deal with the case, which is unhealthy in terms of due process, apart from the fact that in our country we have complained when other parts of the media have got up to such tricks for this kind of purpose.
Fortunately, the judgement has already occurred and it is possible that the tribunal members were not aware of the aforementioned article.
The journalist doesn’t know whether the information provided by the accused is very useful, and it is a great source of regret that tribunals take it into account as mitigating circumstance, by way of Article 52 of the Penal Code.
But, remarkably, the same journalist says that, taking into account similar judgements (to those of the accused, presumably),the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) now expects to make the procedures more flexible in order to deal with the present gaps.
Beware: every accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in open court; couldn’t the journalist have waited for that?
Also, it wasn’t proved in the judgement that the accused would obtain any personal benefit, but would only assist the owners of the cattle in getting the better of the bureaucrats.
Translated by GH
December 26 2012