jueves, 15 de octubre de 2015

Successful start of jury trials in the courts of Quilmes: guilty verdict

Foto: Diario El Sol
It began yesterday the new system of criminal trials, “with great success”, as they noted the different actors of the local Justice. 

Twelve neighbors from the city of Quilmes, chosen by lottery, participated as jurors, listening to various witnesses and many other proofs in a knife­-murder case that finished yesterday with the jury's verdict and that will continue today at 9 o´clock, when the trial resumed for sentencing. The guilty verdict was a majority one (10­-2). 

Trial Court nº 2, with Judge Felix Roumieu presiding, completed the voir dire hearing to select the final jury panel two days ago. The jury tried the death of Victor Rojas, one “car watcher” who quarrelled with the municipal employee Rodolfo Castillo, and get a slash in the throat that killed him within minutes.

Trial prosecutor, José María Gutiérrez, highlighted the development of the new system: "It was all very well organized. The judge had a flawless performance during the day, since each party stuck to its strategies: I was going for murder, and the defence lawyer for self­-defence"

The trial was briefly adjourned yesterday for the opening of a box with a stick, knives and bloody clothes. Due to biosafety reasons, it required the presence of a biochemical not to contaminate anyone, said the prosecutor Gutierrez. 

Two days ago, three witnesses for the prosecution were heard. Yesterday, after the fourth witness testimony, the prosecution rested and so started to testify the three defense witnesses. When PERSPECTIVA SUR asked for a reflection on the new system, prosecutor Gutiérrez said: "It is the highest honor of all for a man of law to receive the voice of the people in the administration of justice”. Because the people is always sovereign, this was a historical moment: our lay citizens, the people whom we represent, would decide on issues of Justice. I thought it was something that I would never be able to see; I have over 30 years in the courts, and finally I managed not only to see it, but to prosecute the first case. I am honored to have been chosen for this first trial in my district with the system of trial by jury." 

Meanwhile, Bienvenido Rodríguez Basalo, president of the Quilmes Bar Association stressed that "we supported from the beginning the implementation of this system, because it is a constitutional mandate that was unfulfilled. Any participation of neighbors in judicial decisions will bring transparency and will encourage citizenship, because they participate in important decisions of justice. And the experience we've had in all court districts of the Buenos Aires province where this system was implemented has been very positive"

"From our experience, we´ve learned that wherever the system was implemented, the community and the jurors joined with great excitement and enthusiasm, wanting to engage and participate, it's all very positive for trial by jury." "From the Quilmes Bar Association we advocate that the new system has the appropriate infrastructure in order to be a successful experience." In this regard, called for "the State to provide all manpower and infrastructure for the system to work well".