Christos Vasiliades, a Baltimore attorney, was charged with obstruction of justice and witness intimidation after allegedly attempting to dissuade a rape victim from testifying in court. Offering both to pay her and threatening to have her deported by President Trump, authorities say Vasiliades was caught in recorded conversations attempting to broker a $3,000 deal in order to have the victim not show up on the day of the trial.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Vasiliades and Edgar Ivan Rodriguez, who identified himself as Vasiliades's interpreter, had informed the victim of the "current environment for immigrants in this country" before offering her the money in the hopes that she would be absent in court, forcing prosecutors to drop the case. They had potentially arranged for a cash drop-off in front of the court house.
"You know how things are with Trump's laws now; someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away," Vasiliades had allegedly said in a conversation covertly recorded by the victim's husband. ICE officials have, in fact, been arresting immigrants in courts, but further claims made by the attorney showed that the victim's well-being was far from his best interests.
"If we were back home where I'm from, from Greece ... we would go [expletive] him up, that's it, if you want to do that, that's fine," Vasiliades allegedly said on the recording, intimating that vigilantism would be better in this situation. "He's an [expletive], I think you should find him and kick his (expletive), personally."
The Baltimore Sun notes that the trial brings up considerable issues that have to do with the intersections of criminal justice and immigration. Vasiliades had allegedly played on the very real fears of immigrants who now must now be wary of the U.S. legal system, which ICE officials have been lately looming over in order to root out even innocent undocumented people.
"Vasiliades and Rodriguez indicated that the monetary compensation would help ensure that [they] would not get deported," the indictment says. The pair had intimated that ICE officials were already "looking into" the case.
Vasiliades was arrested on Tuesday at the courthouse. Rodriguez was also charged with obstruction of justice and witness intimidation. Both have pleaded not guilty. The trial of Mario Aguilar-Delosantos, the defendant in the rape case, has been pushed back due to the recent complications in his case.
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