The Luis Posada Carriles trial ground to an abrupt halt Thursday when the attorney for the Cuban exile militant made a motion for mistrial accusing a Cuban government witness now on the stand of lying about his background, and the prosecution of delaying delivery of relevant documents to thwart the defense.
As a result, presiding U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone suspended the trial until Tuesday – sending the jury home just one day after the Cuban government witness, state security Lt. Col. Roberto Hernandez Caballero, began testifying.
Cardone then ordered Posada’s attorney, Arturo V. Hernandez, to write a detailed motion by 2 p.m. Friday on his allegations about Hernandez Caballero and the delayed documents. Then she ordered prosecutors to deliver their response in writing by 10 a.m. Monday. She is expected to decide by Tuesday morning whether to declare a mistrial, let the trial continue or further delay the trial by several more days or weeks.
The delay in the trial is the latest bump in the road for a case that has been fraught since the start Jan. 10 by disruptions and unusual emotional outbursts in the courtroom. The case was delayed for one day Tuesday when attorney Hernandez first made an attempt to delay or cancel the testimony of at least two Cuban government witnesses lined up by the prosecution.
Cardone allowed Hernandez Caballero to begin testifying Wednesday about his role in investigating a series of bombings of Cuban tourist sites in 1997 blamed on Posada. But Cardone said she will decide later whether to allow the second Cuban witness, medical examiner Ileana Vizcaino Dime, to testify after she hears her testimony outside the presence of the jury.
The trouble Thursday began when attorney Hernandez arose from his chair before the jury was brought into the courtroom and announced to Judge Cardone that earlier in the day he had filed a new motion for a mistrial, his fifth in as many weeks.
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