The Miami Herald
Sat, Jul. 03, 2004

Torture suspect from Cuba has closed court hearing

A hearing took place in immigration court Thursday for Jorge de Cárdenas Agostini, a Cuban recently arrested by federal immigration agents as a torture suspect.

However, his lawyer, who has proclaimed his innocence, succeeded in closing the hearing and barring a Herald reporter from covering it.

Judge Kenneth Hurewitz and the immigration service's trial attorney said they had no objection to coverage. But Hurewitz granted the motion by de Cárdenas' attorney, Linda Osberg-Braun, to close the hearing.

''Under immigration law, the respondent has a right to a private hearing,'' Hurewitz said.

Immigration law says a judge can close a hearing ``for the purpose of protecting witnesses, parties or the public interest.''

Neither the court, nor the government would say what happened at the hearing. Osberg-Braun did not return calls to her office. But a source familiar with immigration proceedings said Thursday's session was de Cárdenas' initial court appearance since his June 8 arrest.