‘Gold case’ pilot suing for legal aid

| 29/06/2021 | 21 Comments
Cayman News Service
Cayman Islands courts, Grand Cayman

(CNS): Juan Carlos Gonzales Infante, a Venezuelan pilot who arrived in Cayman more than two years ago aboard a private jet carrying two passengers, $2 million worth of gold and around $135,000 in cash hidden under the floorboards, is suing the courts’ legal aid department after his application for help to fight extradition to the United States was declined. Infante and three other men were acquitted after a costly, complex, failed prosecution last year that alleged the gold was dirty.

Infante has been in jail for two years as he remains on remand in face of the extradition to the US for similar conspiracy charges from 2011. He is wanted in Florida for smuggling cash, drugs and gold.

Having been refused legal aid to secure a senior counsel from overseas to fight his case, Infante recently filed a law suit because he believes that sending him to America would be wrong for a number of reasons.

According to the court documents, Infante argues that the case in the United States is more than a decade old and the delays in the case are not his fault but would result in him being unable to attain a fair trial. If convicted, he faces a possibility of life imprisonment without parole, which his lawyers say is “unduly harsh, disproportionate, arbitrary and contrary to his human rights”.

He also suggests that sending him to a country where there continues to be widespread problems with COVID-19 from a country where there is zero community transmission of the coronavirus would put his personal safety at risk, especially given that the prison conditions in the US fall below the standards here and in the UK.

The legal arguments regarding COVID-19 are the first ever made in such a case and so there is no precedent for their impact on proceedings. The case will therefore set a new position for the courts here about Cayman’s unique situation regarding the pandemic.

In addition, the extradition is very complicated and his lawyers argue that an expert is needed to present his case. They say that, given the high stakes for Infante if he were to be extradited, he needs legal aid for extradition specialist Claire Dobbin QC in order to secure a fair hearing and the best chance to properly present his arguments over why he should not be sent to Florida.

No date has yet been fixed for the appeal but the case is expected to be heard shortly as the extradition hearing was adjourned earlier this month to pave the way for this appeal.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (21)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Essential travel only is a big fat lie , people travelling to Florida for shopping/vacation every week and same coming to Cayman for Vacation from U S A and U K too. A friend just got back from up North U S A and getting out of 5 days hotel quartine tomorrow free of cost , Government paying his hotel expensives. STOP CALLING IT ESSENTIAL TRAVEL.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This pilot’s fees should not be on the Cayman Islands’ tab. XXX

  3. Anonymous says:

    I seem to recall that a man from a Latin country named Gonzalez Infante would by convention be referred to as “Gonzales”and not “Infante”. The Infante part of thge name is derived from his mother.

    Am I right?

  4. Anonymous says:

    And what’s happened to the Gold have we not seized that and sold it and then there is the $135,000 where is that.
    Something very fishy going on here.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow even the foreign criminals get more rights than us Caymanians. All this fuss and court procedures for him, meanwhile we have Caymanians going to prison monthly because they couldn’t afford a QC.

  6. Stonewall Datsun says:

    Yes the strange case that went no where here with all the hype and names called yet the jury with what seem to be overwhelming evidence could not find anyone guilty of an offence no appeal by the crown either. I tell you what though his trip to Estados Unidos will bring two things him having to explain why he is still involved in this alleged type of criminal behaviour and those involved with him to justice. This I can guarantee will transpire and the embarrassing reasons why this situation occurred here!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well that is one expat that is happy to be in covid free Cayman..lol. Good one though..not sure it will work.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It can’t be valid to speculate on what a USA court might decide by future verdict, and he can appeal any decision that comes down with someone else’s money. Call the Venezuelan embassy if you want legal aiide. We need to start cooperating with USA extraditions, not fighting them with QC money to shield foreign recidivist crooks…next!

  9. Anonymous says:

    What I really want to know is why the Cayman Islands government hasn’t auctioned that jet yet ? At minimum $500k has been sitting idle on the ramp since it’s seizure and depreciating daily. These guys have already been tried and convicted. While we pay for this guys stay in northward. The US Marshall’s would’ve got their monies worth months ago !

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not worth much now, you’d struggle to get insurance, Better to scrap it

    • Anonymous says:

      Aircraft are nothing like cars lol, they maintain their values extremely well. That jet that has trans-atlantic capabilities is great value to any corporate airliner.

      CIG should def auction it off but it can sit for years and the price wouldn’t really change much. Just would need a proper annual to find and fix any squawks and it’s good to go.

      • Anonymous says:

        01/07@4:27am – The aircraft involved is a Cessna Citation 500/501 series. It certainly does NOT have trans-Atlantic capabilities in the context which you infer. Yes, it could probably cross the Atlantic by hopping between every single bit of land between the continents, Labrador, Iceland, Ireland, England (as I’m sure they do when being delivered) but for all practical purposes a Citation of that series is not a trans-ocean or trans-continental aircraft.

        Also, as to value, if it was it great condition when it was seized it may be just over the $500,000 mark. Sitting unattended at ORIA for over 2 years would surely devalue it.

        Anyway, to your flawed point, CIG could make SOME $$ from it.

    • Anonymous says:

      These guys have already been tried and all found innocent you mean. Not convicted.

  10. anon says:

    He should check under the floorboards of his cell.

  11. Anonymous says:

    If he needs legal aid, he better hit up Venezuela not Cayman. 🤣

  12. Anonymous says:

    Next Cayman Airways flight, drop him off to US Authorities in Miami airport, simple, or it should be that simple in an ideal world. Why should we have to pay for his upkeep.

    • Anon says:

      Unfortunately there are no seats available on Cayman Airways to Miami until September!!

      • Anonymous says:

        OMG Best comment response here!!

        PUT MORE FLIGHTS ON!!! Only special people get to get out of here. I haven’t seen my 84yr old parents going on 2 years.
        What is essential travel??
        Elderly parents
        Their home siting and deteriorating
        Shopping??? Why don’t you have a look in the luggage of those returning. See just how essential those trips are.

        I’m off topic now.. Lol

        • Anonymous says:

          Except travel Cayman don’t even ask why you are going. You don’t need to prove your trip is essential – but you do a) need to ask b) be able to pay CAL or BAs bloodsucking prices c) be prepared to do quarantine on return.

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