The infamous head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, has said through his lawyer that an anonymous jury won't be required for his forthcoming trial because the Mexican narcoterrorist "promises not to kill anyone."
The U.S. government had previously asked Judge Brian Cogan, in an undisclosed request reported by local media, to provide an anonymous jury protected with armed guards.
But El Chapo's defense lawyer Eduardo Balarezo said such a move would bias the court's decision, because it would present Chapo as dangerous and, in so doing, violate his right to a fair trial.
"An anonymous jury, especially one protected by armed guards, would poison the case's atmosphere and would support the proofs given by the government by reinforcing the image of Mr. Guzman as guilty and dangerous," Balarezo told El Universal.
Balarezo has instead proposed a process in which the jurors' names are known to lawyers but not disclosed to El Chapo himself, the media or the public.
El Chapo has already been sentenced in Mexico, but managed to escape twice from maximum security prisons: first hidden in a laundry car then by crawling through a 1,500-meter tunnel.
He was captured by Mexican authorities for the third time and deported to the United States, where he faces 17 charges related to drug-trafficking, illegal use of weapons, and money laundering. If found guilty, he could face a life sentence.
Balarezo says prosecutors are basing their case on "internet articles, unproven declarations and conjectures by collaborators that want to reduce their sentence."
Colombian drug cartel members already deported to the United States are expected to testify, including "Don Diego" Leon Montoya Sanchez, "Don Efra" Hernandez Ramirez, Elizabeth Montoya, Ivan Urdinola, Arcangel Henao Montoya, "Pacho" Ivan Cifuentes, "Miguelito" Solano and Luis Giovani Caicedo, according to El Tiempo de Colombia.
Some will detail the air, land and sea shipments of drugs connected to El Chapo, including the use of planes and submarines, as well as the U.S. citizens and Russians hired by the drugs kingpin to assemble the vehicles.
The trial date is due to be decided in a February 15 hearing, although it's expected to begin in September and take place at the Federal Court of the Eastern District of New York.