Jury picked for US trial of Mexican drug lord El Chapo

In this Jan. 19, 2017 file photo provided U.S. law enforcement, authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, center, from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs at Long Island MacArthur Airport, in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. (AP)
Updated 08 November 2018

Jury picked for US trial of Mexican drug lord El Chapo

  • Earlier this week, a defense lawyer asked US District Judge Brian Cogan to grant a “humanitarian gesture” of letting Guzman greet his wife in the courtroom before the jury enters

NEW YORK: Jury selection at the US trial for Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was completed Wednesday with Guzman waiting for word on whether he can hug his wife for the first time in nearly two years.
A jury of seven women and five men are to hear opening statements Tuesday in the drug-conspiracy case against Guzman in federal court in Brooklyn.
Guzman has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of overseeing a drug cartel known for violence and for breaking him out of Mexican jails.
The notoriety has prompted security measures that include keeping the jurors anonymous. Guzman also has been held in solitary confinement and barred from seeing his wife out of concerns he could pass messages to his cohorts.
Earlier this week, a defense lawyer asked US District Judge Brian Cogan to grant a “humanitarian gesture” of letting Guzman greet his wife in the courtroom before the jury enters.
Allowing “an embrace with the railing between them would not pose a threat to security,” the letter read. The judge didn’t immediately rule on the request.
Most of the people picked either for the jury or to serve as six alternates said in initial screening that they had heard of Guzman through news reports or TV shows. They include a man and a woman said they are fluent in Spanish and a man who’s a retired corrections officer.
The judge put off swearing in the jurors until next week out of concern some still might try to duck duty for a trial expected to last into next year. He told lawyers that one of the jurors, after learning she was picked, wept while privately telling him she was afraid of the unwanted attention she would get if it was found out she was on the panel.
The woman was kept on after defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman argued that dismissing her would set the precedent that jurors could get out service “with a few tears.”


Sudan peace talks stall as rebel group halts talks over attack

Updated 20 min 52 sec ago

Sudan peace talks stall as rebel group halts talks over attack

JUBA: Sudan peace talks stalled before they began in Juba on Wednesday as a key rebel grouping said it refused to negotiate with Khartoum, claiming government forces were still bombarding its territory.

Juba is hosting talks between the government of new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and representatives from two umbrella groups of rebels that fought forces of now ousted President Omar Bashir in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.

The talks were launched on Monday in the presence of heads of state from Ethiopia, Egypt, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan.

The first face-to-face meeting between the adversaries was to take place in the South Sudan capital on Wednesday.

But Amar Amoua, secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), told journalists his group would not continue unless the government withdrew from the area of the fighting, in the Nuba Mountains.

“Our coming back to negotiate ... is bound by government decisions to clear all these things,” Amoua, who is representing three different rebel movements, told journalists.

He said that for the past 10 days government forces had continued to attack their territory despite an unofficial cease-fire.

A chief was killed in the Nuba Mountains and several businessmen had gone missing, he charged.

“The government should withdraw its forces and stop ... occupying new areas, we will not allow that,” he said.

Dhieu Mathok, a member of the South Sudan mediation team, told AFP they were investigating the SPLM-N’s complaints.

“We are still investigating it whether there are really attacks in those areas or not, but this will not stop the peace process. Usually in a negotiation these things happen but we are here to resolve the problems.”

Mohammed Hassan, a spokesman for the Sudan delegation, attributed the fighting to an attack by herders on local merchants.

“The government regrets and condemns in the strongest terms these unfortunate events that keep happening in the area and in other parts of the country,” he said.

“We also regret that these events took place at a time when people are entering peace negotiations, and the country and the whole of the region is united for the cause of peace in Sudan.”

The new peace initiative comes after Bashir was toppled by the military in April.

Hamdok has been tasked with leading Sudan back to civilian rule, but he has said he also wants to end Khartoum’s conflicts with the rebels.

The years-long bloodshed has left hundreds of thousands of dead and forced millions to flee their homes.

The movement led by Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu says it will not resume talks unless the government releases the detainees, withdraws from the area where they were seized, and declares a documented cease-fire. 

The SPLM-N is a rebel group in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, which had ceased all hostilities as a “goodwill gesture” after the overthrow of President Bashir. Al-Hilu’s movement controls significant chunks of territory in the region.