Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Nifonged in Nicaragua - Eric Volz Update

In advance of an expected posting at the Friends of Eric Volz website, Blogger Will Hinton has an update on the appeal of Eric Volz's wrongful conviction in Nicaragua.

Eric Update – May 7, 2007
Day #167

In the flurry of the recent media storm about Eric's situation, it might be easy to assume that there is been enough coverage about his case to fill the insatiable hunger for information. That, though, is not the case, so, we are hopeful that the following will fill in some of the empty spaces.

In mid-April, the Expediente (case file) was transferred from the sentencing judge in Rivas to the Appellate Court in Granada, Nicaragua where it is to be reviewed by 3 Appellate Magistrates. It was our understanding that at the point the Expediente was transferred, a time frame of 6 days would begin in which the file would be reviewed and the hearing held. We now understand that the file must be, in essence, "registered" with the Magistrates, at which time they will begin their review. This has not yet taken place. The Expediente is now essentially in a legal limbo until the Magistrates accept the file for review. Obviously, we are hopeful that this will take place very soon -- waiting for this is very difficult and frustrating!

The Appellate hearing is different from the original trial in the way the proceedings are conducted. The hearing is based on oral arguments by the prosecution and defense. No new evidence may be submitted; only corroborating evidence from the original trial. The Magistrates rule on procedural and technical aspects of the case, as well as the factual evidence. With the strength of the evidence in Eric's defense so overwhelmingly favorable regarding proof of innocence, we are anxious for this court to begin its review. We are much more hopeful that the integrity of this court will not be influenced by the media or public pressure and sentiment, as was the trial judge.

In recent weeks the Nicaraguan newspaper, La Prensa, has printed a number of articles focusing on a factual overview of the original investigation, the trial, and the other defendant (Julio Martin Chamorro). The articles have shed light on the discrepancies in the investigation and forensic evidence, or, the lack thereof. This is the first time, since November, that a major Nicaraguan paper has printed anything of substance, relying solely on the indisputable facts of the case. The articles have provided an opportunity for many in Nicaragua to express their doubt about the investigation, the judicial proceedings and, ultimately, the decision of the court.

Many have asked if Eric is still receiving the letters – yes, he is! About every two weeks, on visit days, he is given a new stack to read. Time essentially stopped for Eric on November 23. In a recent phone call, he said that he feels like he is on something akin to being imprisoned on a slave ship in the 1800's due to the conditions and lack of technology. When he receives emails about what is going on in the outside world, he has trouble making the connection that it is in current time. The letters are far more than a record of what is happening for him, they are truly his life line; what is keeping him both sane and hopeful. Please continue to write him regularly!

Please know that there are no words to truly express our gratitude for the compassion and support that continues to be lavished on both Eric and our family. The support for Eric as expressed in letters to him and to us has, and continues to, sustained us. Thank You!!!

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