Trial of the Four Embassy Protectors Ends with a Deadlocked Jury

The four embassy protectors facing prosecution by the Trump administration for staying in the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC last spring to protect it from a takeover by a US-led coup faction had a four-day trial in federal court that concluded on Friday, February 14. After the US government presented its case, the four protectors decided not to present a defense because they believed the government did not prove they were guilty. The government was required to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt the four protectors interfered, obstructed and resisted the State Department’s efforts to protect the embassy and that they did it knowingly and willfully.

Due to the limitations placed on what could be discussed in the courtroom in front of the jury, the government’s case raised more questions than it provided answers. The jury began deliberations on Thursday at lunchtime and deliberated from 9:00 in the morning on Friday until almost 4:00 pm. Halfway through Friday, the jury declared they were deadlocked but the judge encouraged them to continue trying to reach a unanimous verdict. Four hours later, the jury stated that they were “hung” and the judge ruled a mistrial.

Here is a statement given by the four protectors with some supporters outside the courthouse.

While a mistrial is better than finding the four guilty, they are not through with the process. The judge ordered the four to return to court on Friday, February 28 at 9:30 am so the government can decide whether to drop the charges or try the case again. The four defenders with the support of their legal team and this defense committee are making preparations for a likely second prosecution.

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