A witness box occupies the center of the courtroom. Five judges in long black robes listen to testimony. The defendant watches from the front row of the gallery with an armed guard at his side. There is no jury.
This is how justice operates in Cuba’s socialist system. Or at least that is what Florida prosecutors gleaned from a murder trial in Havana that was groundbreaking on several fronts: The star witness was a detective from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office; the defendant was a Cuban national accused of shooting a Jupiter Farms doctor in the head before he fled to the island, and a Florida prosecutor helped prepare the Cuban prosecution team for trial.
“It was fascinating. I was impressed how much it resembled our courtroom process,” said Assistant State Attorney Aleathea McRoberts, who was part of the team that made arrangements for the defendant, Marcos Yanes Gutierrez, to be tried in Cuba and watched the trial from the gallery. “There were opening statements, the presentation of evidence and closing arguments.”
Friday, August 31, 2018
How do the Cuban courts work?
Local South Florida prosecutors caught a glimpse during a murder trial. The whole article is worth a read, but here’s the intro from the Miami Herald: