Monday, November 17, 2014
Bruce Beresford-Redman's "Prison Diary" offers brutal glimpse at a yet disgraceful Mexican justice system
Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Since 2008 Mexico has been struggling mightily to reform its antiquated colonial era criminal justice system with so-called oral trials designed to resemble Anglo-American ones, and a recently enacted uniform criminal procedure code which will be obligatory in every state and federal court throughout the nation. But the ongoing case of former Survivor producer Bruce Beresford-Redman in this world famous tourist destination graphically illustrates that enormous work remains to be done.
MGR has reported several times on Beresford-Redman's prosecution for the April 2010 murder of his wife, the Brazil born Mónica Burgos, which prosecutors allege occurred in their hotel guestroom at the Cancún Moon Palace resort. Those stories are below, in reverse order of their publication, for readers who want the basic facts of the case.
Despite strong objection from Burgos' family members, the CBS news magazine 48 Hours broadcast a special report two days ago entitled Bruce Beresford-Redman's Prison Diaries. The 44 minute video is available here. It offers a compelling account of the utterly inhuman conditions found in thousands of Mexican penal institutions, and the incredibly slow pace of criminal justice for its unfortunate victims - guilty and innocent alike (Tens of thousands of Mexican prisoners languish incarcerated for years, without formal sentencing).
The evidentiary phase of Beresford-Redman's trial recently concluded, 48 Hours reported, with two star witnesses for the prosecution turning out to be anything but. Employees of the Moon Palace, they were allegedly primed to testify that they had overhead a loud quarrel in the guestroom the day Burgos disappeared (her decomposing body was found in a sewage canal days later). But they told the judge - actually, the judge's secretary, who was officiating that date in her boss' absence - that they had heard nothing, and never saw the couple during their fateful stay at the hotel. On that note the state of Quintana Roo was compelled to rest.
As MGR reported in the stories below, almost all of the forensic evidence in the case (blood, human tissue samples, DNA) was lost, contaminated or ultimately destroyed due to gross negligence by crime scene investigators and prosecutors. An independent expert appointed by the court concluded Burgos was not killed in the guestroom, and said there was no physical evidence linking Beresford-Redman to the homicide.
The prosecution of Bruce Beresford-Redman began in February 2012. He remains in jail because the offense is not bailable. In theory a judicial decision could come at anytime, but it's anybody's guess when that will actually occur. "This is Mexico," one of his attorneys told 48 Hours.
To be sure, many remain convinced of Beresford-Redman's guilt, especially the Burgos family. The prosecution case, although circumstantial, is not without logic and persuasive force. But however one evaluates the evidence, all will surely agree on one thing: a Cancún courtroom is no place to be.
Mar. 30, 2014 - Bruce Beresford-Redman's bizarre bid to escape Mexican justice - in Los Angeles
Aug. 10, 2013 - No exit for Survivor producer Bruce Beresford-Redman
Feb. 7, 2013 - Mexico's case against former Survivor producer Bruce Beresford-Redman in jeopardy over technical errors
July 17, 2012 - No release for Bruce Beresford-Redman
Feb. 16, 2012 - Former U.S. TV producer of Survivor bound over for trial in Cancún murder
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at 11:10 PM