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Viewing cable 09HAVANA278, U.S. LEGAL TEAM SUCCESSFULLY CONDUCTS WITNESS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09HAVANA278 2009-05-14 18:06 2010-12-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL US Interests Section Havana
VZCZCXYZ0021
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUB #0278 1341836
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 141836Z MAY 09
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4387
INFO RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/COGARD INTELCOORDCEN WASHINGTON DC
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/NAVINTELOFC GUANTANAMO BAY CU
C O N F I D E N T I A L HAVANA 000278 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2014 
TAGS: PREL SNAR ASEC PGOV CU
SUBJECT: U.S. LEGAL TEAM SUCCESSFULLY CONDUCTS WITNESS 
DEPOSITIONS IN CUBA 

Classified By: CHG: James L Williams for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 

1. (SBU) A team made up of prosecutors from the US 
Attorney's Office from the Southern District of Florida, 
public defenders assigned to the defendants in two criminal 
alien smuggling cases, a court reporter, videographer, two 
interpreters and two DHS/ICE agents traveled to Cuba May 6 to 
take court-ordered depositions from 10 Cuban citizens 
connected to the two smuggling cases. 

2. (SBU) The GOC granted formal approval for the travel of 
the group, provided the team members with visas, and offered 
one of the Ministry of Interior's (MININT) "protocol houses" 
in the suburb of Siboney to hold the depositions. The GOC 
also undertook to find the 10 witnesses desired by the court. 
In the end, the GOC reported that two of the witnesses had 
once again departed for the U.S. and had apparently succeeded 
in their renewed attempt. Another was preparing for an 
interview with the Refugee Unit of the Interests Section, and 
declined to testify out of fear he would put his refugee 
status at risk. The remaining seven witnesses were brought 
to the protocol house in the order requested by the team. 
Space was provided in a separate area of the house for 
defense counsels to speak with the witnesses before they 
began their testimony. GOC officials told the team there 
would be no problem in their taking and recording testimony 
from the witnesses for as long as needed, and that the court 
reporter would be permitted to swear in the witnesses. MININT 
provided food and refreshments to the team, which dedicated 
two complete days (May 7-8) to taking the depositions. When 
they had completed their work, members of the team expressed 
satisfaction with the deposition-taking process. 

3. (C) COMMENT: This is the first time in the memory of 
anyone presently at USINT that such a complete process of 
deposing witnesses has been carried out. The last time USG 
officials came to Cuba to take depositions was in 2007 when 
FBI personnel took depositions from Cuban citizens regarding 
the Posada-Carriles case. Both MININT and MINREX personnel 
who were present throughout the depositions were cordial and 
helpful to the team members and to USINT personnel who 
accompanied them. During the process, the GOC officials 
observed some fairly intense cross-examination of the 
witnesses by the attorneys on both sides. This provoked some 
conversation about the technical issues of the US judicial 
system between the MININT officers and, USINT and AUSA 
personnel. 

4. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: We are not sure why the GOC 
decided to be as cooperative as it was with this case. The 
GOC officers present certainly picked up some information 
about smuggling operations, and about how the USG prosecutes 
smugglers that may be useful to them in the future. Whether 
this case signals a willingness to cooperate more with us on 
law enforcement issues, or establishes an upper limit on such 
cooperation remains to be seem, however. 
WILLIAMS