Conspiracy trial starts

An alleged scheme to get three Cubans to Miami involved a local travel agent and a Cayman Airways employee, prosecutors say.

Trial began in Grand Court on Wednesday for all five men, who are accused of conspiracy to prevent or defeat the enforcement of a section of the Immigration Law.

In opening the case to the jury, Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn said the conspiracy alleged was an agreement to carry out a criminal scheme that would allow the Cubans to travel to Miami without having valid visas to do so.

The case for the Prosecution is that the Cubans intended to travel to Miami and they deceived an Immigration officer by pretending they were going to Cayman Brac.

These defendants are Angel Daniel Thomas Dieguez, Raul Garcia Hurtado and Delvis Martinez Relova. They are represented by Attorney Stephen Hall-Jones.

The men who allegedly assisted them are Michael Shayne Whittaker and George Viquez Miller.

Whittaker, a part-time travel agent at the time of the incident, is accused of assisting the men in securing passage on Cayman Airways flight 102 from Grand Cayman to Miami USA. He is represented by Attorney Clyde Allen.

Miller, a Cayman Airways employee at the time, is accused of assisting the three men in obtaining boarding passes for the CAL flight to Miami. He is also accused of facilitating them in obtaining boarding passes for a CAL flight to Cayman Brac.

Mrs. Gunn explained that passengers travelling to Cayman Brac or Little Cayman are not required to produce a passport to an Immigration official because they are not leaving the jurisdiction.

But international passengers leaving the jurisdiction are required to produce a passport and travel documents if an Immigration officer requires it.

Dieguez, Hurtado and Relova are accused of attempting to leave Cayman and enter the USA. It is alleged they tried to do this by presenting Cayman Brac boarding passes to an Immigration officer.

Mrs. Gunn said the Cubans lied to the officer about where they were going so that they would not have to comply with the requirement to present a passport.

The incident leading to the charge occurred on the morning of 29 August 2006. Mrs. Gunn explained that the Brac flight was scheduled to leave at 7.40am and the Miami flight was scheduled to leave at 7.45am.

When the men left the departure lounge and went out onto the tarmac, a security officer spoke to them and asked to see their boarding passes. It is alleged that they showed him the passes for the Miami flight.

While this was going on, the Immigration officer who had seen the men with Brac boarding passes went out on the tarmac. He saw the three Cubans heading for the Miami flight. The men were subsequently brought back to the terminal.

All five defendants have pleaded not guilty. The Crown was expected to call over 30 witnesses.

Justice Algernon Smith is presiding over the trial.

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