Defendant's mother testifies to his bizarre statements after arrest
In an unusual hearing, a subcommittee of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee heard testimony in Washington this morning from several witnesses in the case of Marine reserve Sgt. Andrew Paul Tahmooressi, who is on trial in a Tijuana federal court for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
Tahmooressi was arrested on Mar. 31, 2014 after entering Baja California state at the San Ysidro crossing, south of San Diego. He and his attorneys and supporters, which include many on Capitol Hill, have attributed events to the sergeant's "confusion" and poor road signage near the international frontier.
Tahmooresi, who served tours of duty in Afghanistan, was purportedly in the San Diego area seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many American press sources have reported for months that the 25 year old Marine was unfamiliar with the border crossing, and mistakenly made a wrong turn while trying to return to U.S. terrain. But Mexican prosecutors and U.S. State Dept. officials have said that Tahmooresi spent much of the 24 hours prior to his arrest in Tijuana, and had entered, exited and then reentered Mexico two or three times the same day. One of Mexico's most liberal, rabidly anti-government investigative journals reported months ago that Tahmooresi's border crossing was "no accident."
The weapons and ammunition were found in Tahmooresi's vehicle by Mexican customs agents and military personnel after his final entry. Mexico's federal Procuraduría insists that the sergeant is being prosecuted in strict compliance with national law, under which the severest penalties await violators of the country's draconian firearms statutes.
Although Sgt. Tahmooressi's latest attorney has not altogether abandoned the "accidental entry" defense, the case has dramatically shifted focus in recent days. Flamboyant Tijuana defense counsel Fernando Benítez' principal argument is now that Tahmooresi is seriously ill with PTSD, and contends the Mexican penal system is unable to accommodate his urgent medical needs. The nation's highest appellate tribunal, the Supreme Judicial Court, has sometimes applied emerging international human rights standards in resolving criminal cases with foreign defendants, especially high profile ones.
In sworn testimony today before the Western Hemisphere subcommittee, Jill Tahmooressi, the sergeant's mother, told members what her son said in the first few days after he was detained:
Mexico has thus far not indicated that it is considering dropping the case and deporting Tahmooressi, but the Marine's vocal network of U.S. supporters plainly hopes that is just what happens. The Obama administration has already said it will not involve itself in the case, other than to lend routine consular assistance to the sergeant.
Tahmooressi faces years in prison if convicted of the charges. In a country where there are no juries, the presiding judge has given no indication when he may issue a decision on any of the legal issues.
June 7 - Mexico's comments on case of jailed Marine will not encourage his supporters
Sept. 9 - No Tijuana exit today for Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi
Dec. 26, 2013 - Condemned Mexican's approaching date with Texas execution chamber poses international risks for U.S.
Fernando Benítez and Jill Tahmooressi, outside Tijuana's federal court
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