U.S. Marine Veteran Prepares for First Mexican Court Hearing on July 9th
Marks first step in freeing Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi following his April 1 arrest for accidentally crossing border with weapons
MALIBU, California, July 7, 2014 – U.S. Marine veteran, Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who has been held in Mexico since he unintentionally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on April 1 with three legally registered firearms and several rounds of ammunition, is scheduled for his first hearing in the Mexican Federal Court system on July 9.
The hearing comes after several months of difficulty for Tahmooressi. Originally held in La Mesa prison, he endured severe abuse and death threats that resulted in a suicide attempt on his life, a common action of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Serving California, a faith-based, non-profit organization committed to assisting veterans, victims of crime, incarcerated inmates, and their families and communities, became involved with Tahmooressi’s mother, Jill, in late May. Tahmooressi is currently being held in El Hongo Prison, 40 kilometers southeast of Tecate, where he now has a 24-hour guard and receives regular visits from chaplains with Prison Fellowship and Baja Christian Ministries.
Serving California’s President, and 30-year criminal defense attorney, Philip R. Dunn, assisted Jill in hiring Fernando Benitez from the Tijuana-based Law Firm of Guillermo Ruiz and Hernandez to serve as Tahmooressi’s new attorney. Jill had previously hired two different Mexican lawyers to assist her son, only to realize neither had experience or success in criminal defense work.
“We are very encouraged to finally have a hearing scheduled for Sgt. Tahmooressi and are hopeful of a positive verdict, which will result in his freedom,” said Dunn. “This is an important first step in working through the appropriate legal system to clear up this misunderstood situation and honest mistake of Sgt. Tahmooressi, who meant no harm nor intent to cross the Mexican border with his U.S.-owned weapons.”
Jill and many other prominent political leaders have pleaded with U.S. government leaders, including President Obama, to intervene in this situation, but Tahmooressi’s legal team is respecting the judicial system of Mexico.
“This is a Federal Court and as in any democratic nation, you will not find an executive calling up a judge and ordering the release of a suspect,” Benitez said. “It makes no difference if it is a mayor, governor, or the president, there’s not a phone call in the world that will change this.”
Serving California, under the direction of Dunn, continues to provide legal and emotional support for Tahmooressi’s mother Jill as she continues her tireless efforts to build international awareness for her son’s legal plight.
“I have personally been to the prison and spoken with Sgt. Tahmooressi twice and believe there is substantial evidence to prove his innocence,” said Dunn. “We will continue to support the Tahmooressi family during this difficult time and to pray Sgt. Tahmooressi will return home soon.”
If convicted, Tahmooressi could face up to 21 years in Mexican prison. In accordance with Mexican Law, the Mexican Federal Court has multiple hearings so that all accounts of the criminal act can be heard. The case can be dropped by the judge at any point.
Serving California is a faith-based, 501(c)(3) organization, committed to assisting veterans, victims of crime, incarcerated inmates, and their families and communities. Serving California helps to provide them with the resources and offer them hope and help to transcend their situations. For more information, visit www.servingcalifornia.org.
- 30 -