18 de septiembre de 2020
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Model Gigi Hadid ruled out as Weinstein juror

New York, Jan 16 (efe-epa).- The selection of the jury that will decide in a New York court whether Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is guilty of sexual abuse proceeded on Thursday with the elimination of about 60 prospective jurors, including supermodel Gigi Hadid, and questioning by the prosecution and the defense of about 140 remaining potential jurors.

Judge James Burke announced Thursday morning that 62 potential jurors had been ruled out and that jury selection would now focus on the remaining 146 candidates, with questioning of them in secret as Weinstein's defense team has requested yet to be decided.

Burke rejected that request in Thursday's court session, the next to last session before the start of oral arguments scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Court personnel confirmed that the 24-year-old Hadid was cut from the group of potential jurors, although this had been expected given the media attention surrounding her presence in court after it was reported on Monday that she was in the jury pool.

Hadid told Judge Burke that she had met both Weinstein and a potential trial witness - actress Salma Hayek - but she said that she felt she could be impartial in deciding the producer's fate.

However, both the prosecution and the defense evidently were in agreement that having her on the jury would create too much disruption.

Meanwhile, during the court session, Burke opposed excluding potential jurors who under questioning confirmed that they have been victims of sexual violence or know someone who has experienced it.

Weinstein's trial is now in its ninth day with a greater media presence than on other days, but the routine appeared to be much the same as on previous days with Weinstein arriving at court 30 minutes early in an SUV surrounded by his legal team, leaning on his walker and taking short steps as he entered the courthouse.

Hadid arrived shortly after 8:30 am with her bodyguard and was dismissed after barely half an hour, leaving the courthouse promptly thereafter and refusing to speak to reporters.

Weinstein's attorneys on Wednesday afternoon had filed a motion in court expressing their opposition to Hadid's presence on the jury since, they said, she is a friend of model Cara Delevingne, one of Weinstein's "accusers," and allowing her to be one of the 12 people sitting in judgment of the producer would create a "carnival-like atmosphere."

Attorney Arthur Aidala, a key member of Weinstein's defense team, in court presented almost 100 points supporting his argument before the judge that the trial should be transferred to another court - outside New York City - where a "media and entertainment circus" would not hamper the proceedings.

Defense lawyers have cited so-called "flash mob" protests in the streets outside the courthouse, the anti-Weinstein chants from which could be heard from the 15th floor of the building, and the heavy presence of reporters and photographers, and - although the defense lost an earlier request for a change of venue - they have contended that their client cannot get a fair trial in New York.

The judge did not respond on Thursday morning to that defense request, but once again he did definitively prohibit the use of mobile telephones in the courtroom and admonished a journalist for sending a Twitter post, calling upon that reporter to answer for that behavior in court after the trial and face a possible 30 days in jail.

Though more than 80 women, many of them major figures in the film industry have made allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against Weinstein, he is accused in the current case of five counts - two for rape - relating to incidents involving just two individuals.

He is accused of raping a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and sexually assaulting another in 2006. He has said any sexual activity was consensual.

Even so, the list of potential witnesses against Weinstein includes film stars Charlize Theron and Salma Hayek as well as "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra.

If found guilty, the 67-year-old Weinstein could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Judge Burke has told prospective jurors that he expects the trial to last until early March.

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