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'You don't have to give in to the El Chapo myth': Defense closes questioning witness credibility

By
Darryl Coote
Joaquin El Chapo Guzman's defense finished its argument, saying the testimonies the juried heard were from those only trying to save themselves. Photo by Jose Mendez/EPA
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's defense finished its argument, saying the testimonies the juried heard were from those only trying to save themselves. Photo by Jose Mendez/EPA

Feb. 1 (UPI) -- The defense for accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman rested Thursday, telling the jurors they've been fed a "scripted event" by the prosecution and that its witnesses can't be trusted as they are only trying to save their own necks.

Guzman's attorney Jeffrey Lichtman told the jury of five men and seven women to consider the lack of evidence to substantiate the claims made by the prosecution's witnesses who testified that they saw Guzman commit murder and other crimes, CBS News reported.

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He said the prosecution "talked about these murders like it's established fact."

He then asked the jurors for the whereabouts of the evidence of these murders and of Guzman, 61, of having participated in them.

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He joked that his client "killed like a zillion of them."

"This is Mexico, not Mars," Lichtman said, saying there would be notice of the people he allegedly killed.

He then tried to paint Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, a co-leader of the Sinaloa cartel with Guzman, as the mastermind, USA Today reported, a theme Licthman has played on throughout the three-month trial.

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Zambada was also charged in a Brooklyn federal court, however, he has not been arrested and is believed to be hiding in Mexico.

During the trial, a prosecution witness said Guzman paid former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto a $100 million bribe in 2012.

However, Lichtman said, Guzman is the one standing trial while Zambada, who allegedly handed over the money to Peña Nieto, is free.

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"(Guzman) has been the rabbit that the Mexican government has been chasing for years, to the benefit of Mayo Zambada," Licthman said.

Lichtman also tried to convince the jury to disregard the testimonies of the prosecution's witnesses, calling them "gutter human beings," the Washington Post reported.

During the trial, the jury heard testimony from alleged associates of Guzman who witnessed "El Chapo" beat and murder people.

It is these witnesses, Lichtman said, who gave the trial "life" but their testimonies can't be trusted as they are only trying to save themselves.

"Those witness told lies every day of their lives - their miserable, selfish lives," he said, calling the witnesses "scum" and "animals" who agreed to stand witness for "sweetheart deals," the Washington Post reported.

"None of these witnesses are dying in jail," he said, CBS News cited.

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Lichtman then concluded telling the jurors to look into their hearts and to hold onto any doubt concerning the testimonies that they have.

"You don't have to give in to the myth of El Chapo," he said.

The prosecution then rebutted, saying that they don't expect the jury to take the testimonies at face value.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Liskamm said the witnesses are "bad" people but that the government needed insiders to know what really happened.

"These people reported to him," she said. "He was their boss."

Guzman faces 10 counts of drug trafficking and if found guilty he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Deliberations are to begin Monday.

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