Thursday, September 06, 2007

An American's Kafkaesque Encounter With Nicaragua's Justice System

In an older article, (May 2007) Eric Volz a magazine editor from San Diego has begun a 30-year prison term for a disputable crime in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. His family is still working to overturn the case with no avail, even though most of the facts point away from Volz. Eric Volz was convicted of murdering Doris Jimnez, his local Nicaraguan ex-girlfriend. "Interviews with witnesses and lawyers, suggest the verdict was heavily influenced by small-town passions and a desire for swift justice." Then why was Eric Volz's case not overturned, Did he really do it? Eric Volz had an alibi, with 10 witnesses claiming to be with him at the time of the murder. After a three-day trial Volz was found guilty, where they wrong? Is this a case of a corrupt South American judicial system and why didn't the United States intervene?

2 comments:

Libby said...

This case provides sufficient evidence of corruption in the Nicaraguan Judicial System. As stated in the article, Volz had an alibi with 10 witnesses and records placing him two and a half hours away from the crime scene at the time. That being said it is ridiculous to read that many biased testimonies from parties close to the victim were taken into consideration more than the hard proof of Volz's alibi. How can a judge overlook something so crucial and consider this a fair trial? The court only seemed to hear what they wanted to hear in order to convict Volz. It is absurd that the judge would use the victim's mother's account of the victim saying, "What happens is Eric is very jealous and tries to control me.. And I'm afraid, Mama, that Eric will kill me", against Volz. Could the mother not have completely made that up? The court only permitted two defense witnesses while there were numerous others there for Volz ready to testify on his behalf. And how is the testimony of Nelson Lopez, a man originally prosecuted until granted immunity for his testimony against Volz, a reliable source? In addition, the Nicaraguan national press "immediately launched an inflammatory media campaign with a fierce anti-American sentiment" (see video link). Was there a hidden agenda with this trial? I believe Volz was not given a fair trial and this revealed many faults in the judicial system.

Kiki L. said...

A couple of days before leaving to spend two months in Nicaragua this summer, my parents watched a Dateline episode about this case. It only increased my mother’s worries as she added to the list of things that could happen to me was going to jail for being accused of killing someone. While I agree that the case against Volz highlights many of the problems of the Nicaraguan judicial system, I cannot help but wonder if anyone would have care if he was Nicaraguan (or even hundreds of Nicaraguans) and not American. Surely, it would have never reached the mass media cover that this case received by even reaching my mother. I heard many stories while in Nicaragua about the corruption in the country and the judicial system. The USAID said in a report in 2006 that, “By far the most serious obstacle to progress in Nicaragua, affecting the economy and the welfare of the people, is the extremely politicized and weak judicial system” (http://www.usaid.gov/policy/budget/cbj2006/lac/ni.html.) By all means everything should be done to get Volz out of jail but perhaps there is a bigger lesson to be learned here. The US knew the problems in Nicaragua before this happened, they should have been making efforts to address the issue, or perhaps the only way to get the attention for something to be done is to have something happen to an American.