14ymedio, Havana, 21 April 2022 — A family from Nuevo Vedado, in Havana, still does not know if they are living inside a movie with a lousy script. A thief has broken into their home twice, and the alleged perpetrator has yet to be arrested or brought to justice. Desperate, the victims have chosen to make known publicly the irregularities of their case.
It all started when Radiel, 26, entered Omar Díaz Escaurido’s and Liss Echevarría González’s house at dawn on July 29th, 2021. Accompanied by other accomplices, the young man picked the exterior gate lock, entered the garage and stole two motorcycles. He took advantage of the fact that the couple was sleeping and that 38th Street and Zoo Avenue, where they live, is located in an area of the city with little traffic.
After noticing the vehicles’ absence, the couple knew who the culprit was, since they knew him as a client of the mechanic shop that Díaz runs in his home. In addition, one month earlier, the impatient thief had posted on social networks an ad for the sale of those motorcycles. With that suspicion, they reported him to the police. The uniformed men arrived at Radiel’s house, found the vehicles and recovered them.
It seemed that the situation was over, but an unexpected turn of events awaited the family. The investigators accused Radiel of a crime of reception (concealment of stolen goods) and not that of robbery with force in an inhabited house. The difference is one year in prison in the first case, 30 years behind bars in the second. In addition, the defendant was able to be released pending trial.
Barely three months later, the same criminal broke into the house for a second time and stole again.
The victims would still have to live a disturbing déjà vu. After just three months, the same criminal entered their house for a second time and stole those two motorcycles again, plus a third one.
The same day of the robbery, Radiel had an accident while driving one of the stolen vehicles. He ended up in the hospital with a broken leg and his victims saw in that mishap the opportunity to call the attention of the police authorities. Now the thief was not going to be able to escape the iron hand of justice, or so they thought.
But the response of the uniformed men was not what they expected. Since the suspect was convalescing, the police officers at the Zapata y C Street station in El Vedado argued that they could not interrogate him in this condition and that they were not going to include all the documentation obtained when analyzing the scene of the traffic accident in the investigation file.
Dissatisfied with the police process, the couple managed, after much pressure, to have the case transferred to the Technical Department of Criminal Investigation on Picota Street, in Old Havana. But the transfer of the file did not start off on the right foot. The new investigators refused to prosecute the offender, citing his state of health.
Radiel took advantage of that time and sold the vehicles for parts, according to what his victims denounced to 14ymedio. The complaints to the municipal and provincial prosecutors, to the Department of Attention to Citizenship of the Ministry of the Interior and, much less, the letters sent to the Council of State were of little use. So far, all those claims seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
“There has been negligence and, in some way, abuse of power, especially when we, who are the victims, have been treated like criminals”
The family also complains of the mistreatment received during their complaints. “There has been negligence and, in some way, abuse of power, especially when we, who are the victims, have been treated like criminals,” says Liss Echevarría forcefully.
To highlight the absurd situation, the family has sent a lengthy complaint to all official or independent media outlets that they know. Last Sunday, Echevarría showed this newspaper the garage of the house where both robberies occurred. The motorcycles of clients whose vehicles Diaz repairs are kept in the place, so it is not uncommon for there to be several of them every day.
Echevarría clings to a miracle: that the publication of his complaint reaches the ears of high-ranking police officers in Havana. “We have tried to arrange an interview with Colonel Moraima Bravet Garófalo, head of the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation of the Ministry of the Interior, who we have been told is very strict, but we have not been able to get her to assist us,” he lamented.
“I’m hopeful that when her name comes up in the media, she’ll know we want her to listen to us.” The couple is tossing a bottle into the turbulent sea of so many reports of theft that are heard throughout the city.
Translated by Norma Whiting
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