Without Access to Justice (II)
Someone slipped a paper under the door. Officer Vladimir Alonso Acanda requires Maura Olga Lidia Ramírez, through an official summons, to appear for an interview at Villa Marista. The woman was worried and surprised. The place is an institution of Cuban State Security in Havana.
What started as a conversation became a 10-hour interrogation. “By late afternoon, totally upset and medicated, I signed my statement without knowing that I had signed my sentence,” argues Olga Lidia. She did not read her testimony, nor did the inspector for her case.
Maura Ramirez had never been interrogated before. She did not know that the Law of Criminal Procedure provides that when the declaration of an accused or a witness is committed to writing, they have the right to read it for themselves, and if they do not, then the officer in charge must do so.
She left the place with instructions to return to work as secretary of the Provincial Academy of Baseball in the Capital. There she was waiting for a resolution that would imposed the ultimate separation from her workplace. At that time she heard, from the mouth of her director, that she was accused of human trafficking.
The criminal inspector, Acanda Alonso, failed to tell her, as required by law, that a criminal proceeding had been initiated against her. Nor was she instructed of her right to make a statement. To date, Maura Ramirez is unaware of who accused her.
So begins the story that, in 2009, brought this woman to face trial, the result of which was a seven-year prison sentence for attempting to violate immigration procedures. According to Case No 111/09, she organized, using e-mails, the illegal exit of ball players from the Industriales and Metropolitanos national teams.
The statement of the Chief of State Security, Vladimir Acanda, was also determinative for the Havana City Provincial Court. The officer “corroborated and confirmed” that the accused, during the investigation, admitted her involvement in the acts. Maura Ramirez claims that she was twice denied the opportunity to change her first statement, a right recognized under procedural law.
“Every crime must be proved independently of the testimony of the accused, … the statement alone of the persons … does not eliminate the obligation to applying the necessary proof to verify the facts.” So reads the Article 1 of the Criminal Procedures Act. In this case, it was irrelevant for the judges.
Maura Ramirez filed a complaint against the officers in charge. The reply would give her the possibility of access to justice and to demonstrate the psychological abuse and manipulation that she was subjected to. They read her the response in an office, but did not give her a written copy of it.