The Same But Different / Laritza Diversent

Pedro Valerino Acosta, 28, son of Pedro and Corina, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing Humberto Gonzalaz Otano, a jeweler in the neighborhood of San Miguel del Padron in the capital, a process that also resulted in sentences for 5 other people.

He had no criminal record, but he didn’t participate in the activities called by the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. His neighbors “reject him for his maladjusted conduct,” said the judges.

According to the Havana Court, the existing proofs against him “are sufficient to name him as the intellectual author of these events.” In its sentence it affirmed that he sold the idea of burglarizing the goldsmith’s house, without specifying how, to the rest of the accused.

Valerino Acosta admitted that he put two acquaintances in the neighborhood in contact with the jeweler in San Miguel, who bought clothes and exchanged US dollars for convertible pesos.

The police say they all proposed to rob the place and the court that they participated in the meetings to perfect the plan, circumstances denied by the rest of those punished in court. According to the judges, the declarations of the accused vary, because of the bonds of friendship that untie them and because they stated in the same prison during their pre-trial detention.

However, recognizing that the declaration of the co-defendants was not proved, the court came to the conviction of his guilt, because along with Eduardo Serna, one of the witnesses who spoke in court, they visited the jeweler’s house. Also there was a relationship with the rest of the accused because of the ties of friendship and living the same neighborhood.

Soltero, with a 9th grade education and unemployed, Valerino Acosta is described by the judges as a tough guy who shows off shouting obscene words. “He frequently disturbs the peace and associates with anti-social elements, and has been an object of interest for the operative organs of the Ministry of the Interior,” they affirmed,

The instructor/investigator in the case, Capitán Yoelkis Céspedes Ramos,who according to the court showed the masterly manner in which the investigation was carried out, never explained why Serna was discarded as a suspect, if, like Valerino Acosta, he knew most of the accused and lived in the same neighborhood.

According to the families of the accused, Eduardo was not charged because a member of his family belongs to the Havana Territory Division of Investigations, a military arm in charge of investigating the case.

In Cuba, we are equal under the law, but having friends, or a family member with a position, or simply being well-off economically, can make the difference. Worse luck for Pedro Valerino Acosta, son of Pedro and Corina, who has no one to protect him.

April 4 2012