El Chapo Promises He Won’t Have Jurors Swimming With The Fishes
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the leader of the infamous Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, has taken the unprecedented step of claiming directly to the judge in his trial that he will not have any jurors killed.
The notorious drug baron, who ruled over one of the largest trafficking empires in history, has recently been extradited from his native Mexico to New York, where he is due to stand trial in a federal court.
As Guzman has a long history of intimidating witnesses and jurors, as well as escaping from prison. He previously managed to get out of two jails in Mexico and is currently serving time awaiting trial in a Supermax prison in the United States.
Amnesty International has criticised the conditions in which he is being held, where he is confined to his cell for 23 hours a day, without the ability to turn off the lights, and limited to just an hour of indoor exercise with no air or sunlight.
The judge in El Chapo's trial, Brian Cogan, has floated the idea that his jurors will remain anonymous.
That is pretty rare but, according to the prosecution, necessary due to Guzman's history of having jurors killed.
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According to Guzman's lawyer, A Eduardo Balarezo, it "sends the message to each juror that he or she needs to be protected from Mr. Guzmán. From there, members of the jury could infer that Mr. Guzmán is both dangerous and guilty."
He also described these fears as being based on "untested and suspect statements from cooperators seeking to reduce their own sentences." Many of those who are due to testify against El Chapo are his former associates.
Judge Cogan is yet to decide on the nature of the jury, with the trial not due to begin until April. Until then, Guzman will be confined to his cell in New York City. The security in his prison is such that he is not even allowed to meet his own lawyers in the same room. He is only allowed to communicate with them via videolink and a screen.
The conditions have been imposed on Guzman because, it is claimed, he is a highly dangerous and violent criminal.
Guzman is 64 years old and his nickname, El Chapo, Spanish for "Shorty", comes from his small stature. He is just five feet four inches tall. Judge Cogan, however, has proved resistant to any attempts to lessen his confinement.
Featured Image Credit: PA