Decalaration of a Co-defendent / Cuban Law Association, Miguel Iturria Medina

By Lic. Miguel Iturria Medina

The presumption of innocence is a legal assumption in most modern legal systems where a person accused of a crime is considered innocent until they are convicted.

The individual enjoys the so-called State of Innocence that should be destroyed by the one who bears the burden of proof, the prosecutor, in a process that respects due process. The offender must be convicted in a trial. This principle has a second accession which is that it is mandatory to prove the facts independent of the statements of the accused, their spouse and close relatives.

With this principle, the defendant’s confession is no longer the Regina Probatio (Queen of the proofs) and the inquisitorial trial system, where in order to achieve this they resorted to coercive methods including torture, as a method of proof subject to later confirmation.

Currently, at least in theory, is not sufficient for the incrimination from one accused person to convict another implicated in the same case.

In the content of our Law of Criminal Procedure these assumptions are guaranteed. Article 1 establishes the principle alluded to as we discussed, and in Article 161 gives the accused the choice to give evidence or not, and in Article 163 is imposed on the officials concerned the obligation to conduct any investigation to verify the events leading the accused.

These assumptions are in effect not only with regards to self-incriminating statements from the accused, but also statements of an accused involving other people. The so-called co-defendants.

The declaration of a co-defendant, by its nature, does not have the rigor and quality of other personal proofs and requires further confirmation in other methods of proof; because the accused, unlike the witness is not obliged by law to tell the truth and is not responsible for any legal if failure to do so; in addition, in his condition as a part of the process he will always have particular interest in the outcome.

It is seen as a means of defense or incomplete evidence. The Act imposes the existence of other elements to form a conviction.

In short, no one can be sentences based only on their own testimony or that of another person implicated as an accused in the same penal process.

So much for the theory and the strict content of the law. Unfortunately, judicial practice does not always coincide with those arguments. Convictions contrary to the law occur relatively frequently.

Its foundation is based mainly on the alleged absence of motive for one defendant to want to unfairly prejudice another. For example: if their relations were good or there is no earlier situation of conflict between them, then it is estimated that for the most part the incriminator is being truthful and it is taken as evidence. Is that perhaps what is regulated in the law?

May 25 2012