The lawyers of two Colombian taxi drivers accused of killing a DEA agent in the capital Bogota are seeking to overthrow testimonies given to agents of the DEA and the FBI claiming they were intimidated, reported local media on Monday.
Two of the drivers involved in the death of DEA agent Terry Watson asked on Monday through their lawyers to remove the testimonies surrendered to the US authorities in Bogota.
According to the statement, the taxi drivers were pressured and intimidated by agents of the DEA and the FBI to force collaboration and it was even suggested they faced “a possible death sentence,” something which is prohibited within the extradition treaty between the two countries. Moreover, one of the suspects said that the DEA agents threatened to kill him, reported Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper.
This development took place during one of the preliminary hearings in the trial against the taxi drivers in a Court of Virginia where a series of arguments presented by the defense lawyers were presented.
In one of the arguments, lawyers for Omar Fabian Valdes and Javier Bello, alias “Clown”, asked the judge to delete the record of their testimonies obtained on June 25, 2013, the day they were captured by the National Police. The claims of both, although presented separately, is that agents obtained information by fraudulently deceiving their clients so that they signed a document that dispensed with their rights to remain silent and have an attorney before making any statement.
Both Valdes and Bello took the stand to explain to the judge the alleged intimidation.
Bello, who confessed to stabbing the deceased Watson, tearfully recounted the brutality employed by the American agents. One of them, apparently good friends with Watson, threw up and started to choke him with both hands while threatening to kill him.
“Son of a bitch, you’re gonna die,” Bello said the American agent shouted while their colleagues tried to separate them. Then the agents in the room rose from their chairs and threatened to take him out of detention to kill him . It was there that Bello agreed to sign an affidavit, “I did not want them to kill me and I did what they told me,” Colombia’s El Espectador reported.
Valdes said that before signing the document the officers discussed the possibility of him dying or never seeing his family again if he refused to cooperate with them. This prisoner also claimed to have feared for his life when one of the officers put his gun on the table and pointed it in his direction. “I was very afraid because I have seen the Discovery Channel programs and other shows where agents kill many people,” Valdes said.
According to this, it was that kind of pressure that made him sign the document without reading it. Prosecutors, however, argued that the interrogation process was done within the full rigor of the law, giving them both a Spanish copy of the document and then reading them paragraph by paragraph. They denied having used violence to obtain testimony.
Judge Gerald Bruce Lee handling the case before the Court of Virginia will have to decide whether to accept or reject the motions. If they are accepted, such testimony would be excluded from their trial to start in January next year. It is more likely, however, that the word of Colombians will be rejected against several US agents.
The hearing will continue on Tuesday with the discussion of other motions, including one that claims that the taxi drivers were unaware that Watson was an internationally protected person and therefore extradition does not apply to them.