Crime & Punishment

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Archive for November 2018

Cops’ Cuban nightmare continues

with 5 comments

As reported last week, the two Vancouver-area cops trapped in Cuba for the past eight months were acquitted of the accusation of sexual assault by a five all-female judicial panel. The accuser declined to attend to give evidence. The only evidence against them at trial was a statement given to a Cuban investigator the night in question. At no time was there any ability to challenge her statement by way of cross examination.

In Cuban law, there is supposed to be prosecutor and a defence lawyer present during the statement so questions can be asked and the statement challenged. That never happened.

Despite that, the judicial panel acquitted unanimously. But still they couldn’t leave. In Cuban law there is an appeal period and a week or so later the prosecutor filed an appeal. On what grounds, we are not sure.

We believe, partly because of what was said at trial, the prosecutor will argue the accuser was too drunk to be able to form consent. On this point there is no evidence. A hotel employee who saw her after the alleged incident testified she looked fine, not upset and not drunk.

Cuban police took a blood sample two days later which yielded a Blood Alcohol Content reading of 120 mgs. (80 is the legal limit to drive). What that tells us is that in the intervening time she had been drinking. Which tells us absolutely nothing about the day in question. The hotel employee’s evidence is much more telling.

After the acquittal, media across the country were telling the story. This prompted something called “Statement from Family Friend” to be released to the media.

It starts off being accusatory saying, “Just because the two men wear badges doesn’t mean they should be believed.”

I agree. And just because she’s female doesn’t automatically mean she is to be believed.

That’s why we look at the evidence, and when we do we find that there is not a scintilla of actual evidence that supports or corroborates the statement of the accuser. None.

She left the boys’ room and went to hers, through the lobby, past dozens of tourists and staff members an said nothing. When she got back to her room, her roommate asked where she had been and for reasons best known to her, she uttered the rape story. The roommate then initiated a call to hotel security who called Cuban police. At that point she was stuck with her story.

Cuban police took her to a hospital where a rape kit was conducted. There was no evidence of semen, no bruising, no tearing of the vaginal walls. Nothing one would expect to find with a violent rape as she claimed it was.

She also claimed she was dragged over 500 metres from the poolside bar, through the lobby, up three flights of stairs into the cops’ room and was held down and raped. Across a resort at peak season, through a busy lobby, past a bar, a coffee shop, front desk and somehow no one noticed? It strains credulity well past the breaking point.

The evidence given at trial by hotel security staff is just the icing on the cake.

The resort is covered by CCTV cameras. The defence asked multiple times for that video which they knew would debunk the allegation and corroborate the cops. They were never able to get any of it. And, the prosecution never led any video at trial. Why?

The answer is simple. Because the video simply did not support the allegation made in the statement so the Cuban prosecutor is covering it up.  So, why the zeal by the prosecutor to prosecute the case initially and secondly, why the appeal?

The Canadian government has not lifted a finger to help out the two officers. They said they were monitoring the situation. Fine. But the trial has occurred and the acquittal was unanimous. To keep them hostage while a sham of an appeal proceeds through the Cuban system is wrong and our government needs to come out forcefully and say so. They need to demand their release or put at risk Canadian tourism to the island and our generous foreign aid programs. Just the threat of which would get their attention. Balls are the answer, not colourful socks.

As a final note, the statement from the family friend ended with, bizarrely: “Even if what they say is true, is this the type of behaviour we want in our boys in blue?” Even if? Even if? What?

They were two young, single men on a well-earned holiday in a resort. Imagine, young single folks partying on holidays in a sun-soaked resort, who could possibly imagine cops might do that too?

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

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Written by Leo Knight

November 23, 2018 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Cops in Cuba cleared by courts but still not free to leave

with 5 comments

I have learned in my life to expect very little from our government. And I always get less than I expect. 

The two Vancouver area cops being held hostage in Cuba have received exactly that from our federal government – nothing. There has been no attempted intervention with the Cuban government. They have said they are monitoring the situation and that’s about it. Oh, and they let the boys make phone calls from our Consulate in Matanzas to their family. 

They went on trial in late October after being held in Cuba on dubious allegations of a sex assault by a less than credible complainant. The trial was held before a panel of five judges, two of which were lay persons. I should add that all five were female. In these days of “Me Too” and “believe all women” this is important. 

The complainant, a precocious 17-yr-old from Barrie, Ontario chose not to appear for trial to give evidence. She was invited by the Cuban government and that request was relayed via the Canadian government. But, no. She did not attend for whatever reason.

Most likely she didn’t want to subject herself to cross examination lest she be proved the liar she is.

To be clear, she initiated a sexual encounter with one of the police officers. It was consensual. The other officer stayed on the balcony as nature took its course. She tried to engage him in the activities not once, but twice and twice he rebuffed her. 

Well, hell hath no fury as a wise man once said, to quote former Vancouver Homicide Detective Bob Cooper.  

She left the room and returned to hers in the same resort. She was even seen by a hotel security officer in the packed resort hotel. He testified at the trial that she seemed normal, not drunk, not upset, just normal. 

That’s an important fact in this whole thing. Follow along. 

In law, when considering sex assault allegations, there is something called the Doctrine of Recent Complaint. In essence, if the first person the victim comes in contact with following a sexual assault is told of the assault it adds credibility to the allegation.

Well, that didn’t happen in this case. She said nothing to the hotel security guard nor anyone else in a very busy resort hotel. Not a word and according to the evidence to the security officer she looked normal. Not upset. Not drunk. Nothing out of the ordinary.

So, how’d this thing get started? When she got back to her room she was asked by a friend where she had been and she then and only then came up with her nonsensical story. The friend  contacted security staff who then called police.  By then the complainant was stuck. In for a penny, in for a pound I suppose.

The prosecution’s theory is that she was too drunk to consent. Yet, in the investigation no one took a blood sample from her until two days later. It yielded a result of .120 which said she had been drinking in the days since the alleged event but nothing more. It was evidence of absolutely nothing except the girl liked drinking while on holiday with her friends. While she was doing that, the two cops she accused of sexual assault were in a Cuban jail. 

I should also add in all of this, the friend who was the first person told of the allegation, was never interviewed by Cuban police. 

So, the only evidence against the two police officers was a statement given to a Cuban police officer on the night in question that was never tested by a cross-examination. And the alleged “victim” declined to return and provide evidence. 

The five female judges heard the evidence and returned a verdict of not guilty. But that is not the end of the matter. There is still an appeal period where the prosecution or the complainant can say they are not satisfied and file an appeal. It is not clear under Cuban law whether the appeal has to be a question of law as it does in most Western democracies. Whether or not the complainant was drunk is a finding of fact and the court found that she was not and her allegations were not to be believed. Yet, the Cuban government still holds the two officers hostage to a system that no one seems to understand. 

When contacted, the boys’ family had this to say: “We are grateful that the judges ruled that the evidence, both scientific and physical, did not corroborate the accusations. In fact, all of the evidence undermined the credibility of the accuser’s statement in numerous important ways. The substance of what the accuser said was directly and absolutely contradicted by the evidence.”

This is important because the Cuban system of justice, such as it is, does not have a presumption of innocence. Quite the opposite in fact. An accused must prove their innocence. The court agreed there was nothing to the allegations. 

But, unfortunately, the two officers are still being held hostage. It’s hard for me to see how any appeal could succeed, but there it is. We still wait for the two officers to be allowed to leave their paradise prison. 

We also wait for the Canadian government to do something, anything to help two serving police officers held by Cuba and not being allowed to serve the citizens of Canada. As I said earlier, I expect little from government and God knows these two officers have gotten less than that. 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

November 17, 2018 at 7:58 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment