Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nifonged in Nicaragua: UCSD Article

The University of California, San Diego student newspaper, The Guardian, has an excellent article offering an overview of the Eric Volz case. Volz is a 2005 graduate of the school's Thurgood Marshall College.
Excerpts from The Guardian:
  • A 2005 UCSD graduate is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence in Nicaragua for allegedly raping and murdering his ex-girlfriend, though his defense team and a galvanized crew of family and friends are waging an international media campaign to reopen the investigation and appeal his conviction, which supporters say was based on shaky evidence.
  • Thurgood Marshall College alumnus Eric Volz's advocates claim that corruption, inconsistencies and propaganda plagued the investigation into the murder of Doris Jimenez, along with the subsequent trial during which Volz was convicted.
  • Although Volz was found guilty, 10 witnesses placed him in his Managua office - 90 miles away on ill-maintained roads - from 9:21 a.m. until 2:07 p.m.
  • Cell phone records, a conference call, time-stamped AOL Instant Messenger logs and meetings with three business associates corroborated the witnesses' testimonies.
  • In addition to Volz, three other Nicaraguan men were charged with Jimenez's murder.
  • One defendant, Nelson Lopez Danglas, received full immunity in exchange for testifying that he saw Volz exiting Jimenez's store at 1 p.m., adding that Volz paid him 50 cordobas - about $2.73 - to carry two bags from Jimenez's store into a waiting car. Danglas also had scratches, covering his torso, forearms and penis.
  • A Hertz rental receipt stamped 3:11 p.m. corroborated his assertion that he drove to San Juan del Sur only after he heard about the murder when a friend called him at 2:43 p.m.
  • Police had to fire rubber bullets to restrain the mob coordinated by Jimenez's mother, Mercedes Alvarado, who gathered the group outside the courtroom during the trial as they chanted and proclaimed that the United States cannot buy justice in Nicaraguan courts.
  • According to World magazine, protestors also threatened Volz, yelling, "Come out, gringo, because we are going to kill you!"
  • Volz and a U.S. Embassy security officer were chased by the crowd following the trial's preliminary hearing and had to barricade themselves inside a gymnasium to avoid being attacked, the Wall Street Journal said
  • "The Embassy has been actively engaged with Nicaraguan authorities regarding [Volz's] situation ... please be assured that in all such cases involving U.S. citizens, we do everything possible to try to ensure that the matter is handled in a fair, transparent manner by judicial authorities and that the rights of the accused under local law are protected," American Ambassador to Nicaragua Paul A. Trivelli said on the U.S. State Department's Web site.
  • In response to the massive public outcry following Volz's conviction, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has attempted to nudge fellow representatives into action, initiating dialogue with the State Department in an attempt to ensure that the investigation and review of the situation are kept open.

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