Jury at impasse in Venezuelan cash suitcase trial

Por Venezuela Real - 29 de Octubre, 2008, 18:03, Categoría: Prensa Internacional

Washington Post
October 29, 2008

acting as an illegal foreign agent to cover up a political scandal involving a cash-stuffed suitcase. A federal judge ordered them to continue deliberations.

"We cannot reach a unanimous verdict," the 12-person jury said in a note to U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard after 3 1/2 days of deliberations.

Lenard said afterward that she would order jurors to continue deliberating Thursday in the case of 41-year-old Franklin Duran. Prosecutors and Duran's attorney agreed.

Duran and others are accused of heading to Miami in 2007 on Venezuelan government orders to ensure the silence of Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson, the man who carried a suitcase with nearly $800,000 into Argentina that year.

The U.S. said the money was a Venezuelan political donation for the campaign of Argentina's president.

Duran attorney Ed Shohat contended Duran was entrapped by the FBI and came to Miami only to help out a friend and protect business interests. The charges of conspiracy and acting as an illegal foreign agent carry a potential combined sentence of 15 years in prison.

Testimony indicated the cover-up was ordered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who directed the chief of Venezuela's intelligence service, Gen. Henry Rangel Silva, to handle it.

Chavez and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, who was elected in October 2007, denounced the case as politically motivated. U.S. officials denied that.

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