Hijacker of Cuban plane convicted (MH)

Jose G. Perez jgperez at netzero.net
Fri Jul 11 07:33:59 MDT 2003


The Miami Herald reported, on the trial of the hijacker:

Thursday's verdict followed a decision earlier in the day by
Highsmith to bar Wilson from testifying that he changed his
mind about the hijacking in Havana but was afraid to
surrender for fear of being killed....

"I would not be able to testify freely," Wilson told
Highsmith in Spanish through a translator. "I think I would
be left without any opportunity to give testimony about this
case."

*  *  *

What the Herald does not say --probably because the reporter did not
know-- is that Wilson's comment undoubtedly reflect Cuba's norms for a
fair trial. 

In Cuba, an accused person has an unconditional right to say anything he
wants in his own defense; the person is not sworn, they face no
liability. The are free to answer or not any question that may be put to
them if they decide to speak. 

Now, this is NOT the invention of the revolution. This is a common
provision of criminal procedure in much of the civilized world -- the
idea that a defendant MUST have an untrammeled opportunity to defend
HIMSELF, and literally so, is a bedrock principle of procedural due
process.

To defendant Wilson it must have seemed an aberration, truly monstrous,
that he would be gagged at his own trial, and what he tells the judge
reflects that. 

It is also good to remember the next time you hear one of these liberals
or soi-disant leftists criticize Cuba for having had "unfair" trials for
the 75 "dissidents" recently rounded up. At least those defendants had
the untrammeled right to make their own statement in self-defense. That
is MORE due process than ANY defendant in ANY criminal case gets in the
United States.

José





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