Feb. 28, 2017
ATTENTION: Reporters covering federal courts, criminal law, international drug trade, Latin America, law schools
CONTACT: Susan Gluss, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-642-6936
WHAT: Family members of crime victim Julio Henríquez will speak at the sentencing hearing of Colombian drug lord Hernan Giraldo-Serna in federal court, in USA v. Giraldo-Serna. This is the first time that victims’ relatives will speak out at a drug lord’s sentencing under the U.S. Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA).
WHEN: March 3, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. E.T.
Judge Reggie B. Walton Courtroom,
333 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C., 2001
WHO: Family of murder victim Julio Henríquez:
- Zulma Natacha Chacin de Henríquez (widow)
- Nadiezdha Natazha Henríquez Chacin (daughter)
- Bela Juliana Henríquez Chacin (daughter)
Family’s legal representatives:
- Roxanna Altholz, lawyer and associate director, International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) at UC Berkeley School of Law
- Leo Cunningham, partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
After a six-year legal battle, the family of a man murdered by a Colombian drug lord will finally have its day in court. The wife and daughters of the late Julio Henríquez will speak at the sentencing hearing of Hernan Giraldo-Serna. The paramilitary leader was convicted in Colombia for the 2001 disappearance and murder of Henríquez, an anti-cocaine activist. In 2008, Giraldo-Serna was extradited to the U.S. on drug trafficking charges, avoiding punishment in Colombia for his human rights crimes.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton granted the Henríquez family the right to speak under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA). Enacted in 2004, the law ensures certain rights to victims—including the right to be heard at sentencing and before a plea deal. This case is the first time that a U.S. federal judge recognizes the human toll of a drug conspiracy.
The International Human Rights Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law teamed with the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati to represent victims of Giraldo-Serna’s atrocities committed during the drug trade.
“Each of the three women will face the defendant—who disappeared, tortured and murdered their husband and father—and explain how that crime harmed their lives,” Roxanna Altholz said. The murder of Henríquez, an environmental activist opposed to coca-growing, “was calculated to quiet any opposition to Giraldo-Serna’s rule in the area, and it had a long-term impact on civic engagement and political activity in the region,” she said.
INTERVIEWS: Henríquez family members and legal team will be available for interviews on March 2 and on March 3, after the hearing. Contact Roxanna Altholz (attorney and interpreter) directly: email@example.com to coordinate.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR JOURNALISTS: