News March, 24th 2010 by

Ballena Blanca case suspended for one month

The “Ballena Blanca” money laundering trial, being held in Marbella, has been suspended until May 3. It is not known whether it will be tried further in a Marbella court due to what the court magistrate called the “drastic” nature of the suspension.
The president of the court, Federico Morales, said the case has been suspended to avoid a complete collapse. He suspended proceedings on Tuesday so that the defense counsel can examine more documentation –  some thirty volumes to which they have not had access. The magistrate said that the inability of the lawyers to examine the documentation impinges on the rights of the defendant to a fair and open trial.
Morales called the suspension “drastic.” He said that although he has not yet dismissed the case, he may still decide to do so if the defense counsel does not return with a valid argument after examining the documentation. Defense attorneys have until April 23 to examine the documentation, followed by three more days to present their arguments to the court. If the court deems those arguments sufficient, the trial may resume on May 3.
Only one of the defense attorneys, the one representing Sophiane Hambli, was against the postponement, saying that his client has already spent too much time in jail awaiting trial.
Horacio Oliva, lawyer for the main defendant, Fernando de la Valle, called the decision to suspend “highly valuable” as a way to “clean up court procedures” and insure that nothing would be done illegally. Oliva also expressed distrust in the police investigation leading up to the case.
Observers note that if the court of Marbella resumes the trial, the case will take much longer. A new judge would be appointed, and that judge would need time to study all 240 volumes of documentation.

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