Santiesteban: The Fundamentals of Law and Reasonable Doubt

1359244819_6-vallin_21Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

The case of the honored and prize-winning writer Angel Santiesteban Prats has been appealed to the Supreme Court by his defense attorney, using the right to appeal to the highest court in the land.

In a previous post I analyzed the facts that were present in the case and now I will do the same with the law that, in my opinion, is also involved in this controversial issue.

First of all, let me start with what has been called the principle of immediacy. This principle refers to the time that may elapse between the events and the trial and essentially proposes that this time should be as short as possible.

When so much time has elapsed between the events that are going to be addressed in the trial and the holding of that trial  (as in the present case because between the events and the trial it was more three years), the passage of time can:

  • Distort memories, erase details, change impressions;
  • Lead to the absence of important witnesses for one reason or another;
  • Other undesirable and disruptive elements of objectivity, truthfulness and accuracy that in a case of this nature should be avoided.

Moreover, article 70 paragraph 4 of the Criminal Procedure Act reads: “When not expressed clearly and strictly in the judgment, the facts are considered proven, or there a manifest contradiction between them.”

And this is the case with Santiesteban: there was a contradiction in the facts given by the court and proved by other evidence presented at the trial and the testimony of several witnesses. Also there is a lack of clarity because of “the omission of essential elements legal significance.”

To add another legal element (I could add others), I will refer to Article 350 of the Criminal Procedure Act itself when it says:

“If some element or circumstance has been omitted that, without substantially altering the facts, can affect the classification of the crime, or if an error has been committed regarding this or the degree of participation of the accused or the aggravating circumstances of criminal responsibility … ”

The judgment requires compliance with this article, but the formalities have not been observed.

A final detail (for reasons of space):

The Provincial Court itself recognizes in its judgments the personal merit and prizes awarded to Santiesteban. Moreover Instruction 175 of 21 July 2004 the Governing Council of the People’s Supreme Court directs, when the penalty of imprisonment does not exceed five years, such a penalty can be replaced with one that does not involve incarceration.

However, for Ángel Santiesteban the sanction does not refer to these substitutions, leaving jail as the only option.

Is there some special problem with Santiesteban that has been ignored in this trial?

Cuban Law Association

January 26 2013

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