They Will Always Find Someone to Blame / Laritza Diversent

When it comes time to acquit a suspect, the Cuban justice system does not believe in any evidence, not even DNA; but if the problem is to lay blame, anything is good enough.

Laritza Diversent

The Provincial Court of Las Tunas, sentenced Rafael Ramos Utra to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a minor in his own home in March 2005. The Camaguey court condemned Delvis David Peña Mainer to 40 years for the brutal machete killing, in January of the same year, of a young man of 23 and his wife age 17, in Vertientes.

Utra Ramos, 51, and Pena Mainer, 44, both pleaded innocent, but justice found them equally guilty, despite physical evidence that said otherwise. In the case of Rafael, it dismissed the first two reports of DNA prepared in the province of Las Tunas, which confirmed his innocence. In the case of David, the Camaguey court credited rumors circulating in the neighborhood.

Mainer Peña allegedly decided to kill the young man because he said he had sex with his daughter and tried to have sex with his wife. The girl was killed when she came to the aid of her husband. According to a weather report the night of the crime, the night was well-lit. Enough to convince the court that the young woman was seen by Peña Mainer in the midst of the crime, and knowing himself discovered, he decided to do away with her

According to the court the injuries on both victims were made by a lefty, as is Peña Mainer, with a short blunt instrument. They confiscated a blade from David, a wide machete curved at the end, which is used in Cuba to cut sugarcane. According to the report, on the “inside of the handle” o the weapon they found blood, “but could not determine to which species it belonged.”

The Camaguey court found it unnecessary to compare the blood sample found on the murder weapon, with the DNA of the victims. Maybe that’s why they ordered the blade sent to a provincial prison work camp, and the “destruction and tossing out” of the clothes of the young people killed, some of with “possibly bloody stains” and the traces of blood from the crime scene.

With Ramos Utra, it happened differently. The Central Criminal Laboratory of Cuba, in a first review acknowledged “there is no relationship between semen present in the underwear” of the 6-year-old and “the blood sample sent as that of the suspect Utra Rafael Ramos,” who denies have been alone with the child and much less touching her.

They then said “the yellow stain in the panties” of the child, coincided with “the blood sample from the child herself.” “It was not possible to establish the genetic profile of semen found in the panties, because the seminal material was exhausted,” admitted the laboratory in the second report, conducted two months after the first.

The probability of finding two people with the same genetic information, is 1 in 15 million individuals. Despite the certainty of the first test showing Ramos Utra to be innocent, the Court of Las Tunas also found him guilty and ordered the incineration of panties, a piece of evidence of the crime.

Cuban courts, it wold seem, neither accept nor rely on DNA testing, the most reliable test to date, to confirm the guilt or innocence of a person. Their maxim is to do justice, although they condemn an innocent. They will never fail to find someone to blame.

May 14 2011