Andrew Tahmooressi’s latest hearing took place Tuesday in Mexico. Attorney General Eric Holder was also there to meet with his Mexican counterpart–but not to discuss the Marine sergeant who crossed the southern border by mistake. He was there to discuss humanitarian relief for Central Americans who cross that same border on purpose.
Is it just me, or does anyone else see a disconnect here?
Tahmooressi’s lawyer, Fernando Benitez, spent a grueling 8-hour marathon session with the trial judge and Mexican federal prosecutors going over security camera footage taken at the border on March 31, the evening when the sergeant got lost and entered Mexico by mistake, according to his account.
“We are happy with the results because we can conclusively state that our client told the truth all along,” Benitez told Fox News in an exclusive interview.
When Tahmooressi was arrested, he had everything he owned in the vehicle with him, including three legally-purchased and registered firearms, as well as 400 rounds of ammunition. He was arrested because of the weapons, and now faces up to 21 years in prison if convicted.
“You can clearly see that my client’s demeanor from the beginning is calm, he is cooperative,” Benitez told Fox Wednesday. “He is clearly motioning … that he wants to go back and motions that the guns are hidden in a certain place and he cooperates with his captors.”
This has been Tahmooressi’s statement from the beginning–that the crossing was a mistake and that it was he who pointed out the weapons to the Mexican authorities.
Fox News reported:
Both the defense and prosecution chose portions of the surveillance video to be played in court. Benitez said the footage would have taken several days to play in its entirety. The attorney also said the video showed Tahmooressi was handcuffed during most of the seven-and-a-half hour detention. The footage did not contain audio.
The defense next plans to make a video showing how easy it may have been for Tahmooressi to accidentally enter Mexico. While further hearings are likely, none have been scheduled yet.
“Unlike the U.S. system, where you will have a two or three day trial, in Mexico evidence and hearings are presented piecemeal,” Tahmooressi’s previous defense attorney, Alejandro Osuna, told Fox in an earlier report.
Therefore, although the trial judge has the authority to dismiss the case at any point in the proceedings, the entire process can take years to complete. Making Tahmooressi’s incarceration especially onerous is that he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Since his arrest, President Obama has had occasion to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto several times on unrelated matters, but the sergeant’s case has never been brought up.
Attorney General Holder met with his own Mexican counterpart in Mexico City–also on Tuesday, the day of Tahmooressi’s hearing–not on Tahmooressi’s plight, but rather on the plight of others.
Also attending the hearing were Holder’s counterparts from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, according to The Washington Times.
“Specifically, the group considered strategies about how to best confront the smugglers of these unaccompanied children, the violent gangs who victimize them in their home countries and the cartels who tax or exploit them in their passage,” Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said.
This may be unfair of me, but given this administration’s rush to judgment in both the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases, I can’t help but wonder if Tahmooressi would have been freed by now if he were black.