Renos Avraam

Renos Avraam was one of the Branch Davidians who survived. Following is the transcript of Avraam's testimony before sentencing.

The transcript was posted February 18, 1995, by Carol Moore, who said, "Below are statements eight Branch Davidians made June 16 and 17, 1994 just before federal Judge Walter J. Smith sentenced them to a total of 240 years on aiding and abetting voluntary manslaughter and/or weapons charges ... These statements, taken from the trial transcript in the order in which they were made, have been edited somewhat for clarity and brevity."

I've got quite a few issues. The [aiding and abetting] voluntary manslaughter charge that was given to the Court to give to the jury on my behalf actually was added by my attorney without actually asking me for my permission. And that might violate some of my rights under the Constitution, since I should be told prior to any charge against myself the actual nature of the charge or the indictment.

The second thing. We heard testimony saying that UH-1 helicopters were only used as diversion, but weren't actually used to fire on Mount Carmel in any way. I have evidence [to the contrary]. . .Now would it be okay if I called David Aguilera (BATF lead investigator who was in a helicopter) to the stand? (Judge Smith says no.) I've got evidence that perjured testimony was used in this trial. Are you saying that you're going to still make a judgement, knowing that there is evidence showing there was perjury? (The judge says this is not the time to raise that issue.)

My next thing is the want of jurisdiction in this court. Has this Court got jurisdiction over me? I have witnesses and evidence and testimony, and, therefore, proof that I am innocent, and that alleged agents perjured themselves and the prosecutor used perjured testimony with specific intent. (Avraam challenges whether the judge is a Constitutional Article III judge and the judge asserts he is. Judge Smith claims that government witnesses "had no reason to either lie or be mistaken" when they testified under oath.)

Well, they did have a reason since the Posse Comitatus Act does not allow military aircraft to be used in [combatting] civilian crime. What I'm saying is that there was good reason for them to lie. And the Comitatus Act may have been violated by President Clinton by using tanks, the tanks should never have been used to enter the building. (Judge says none of that will affect the sentencing in his case.)

I don't think anything I can say is going to have any benefit. I don't think anything here is going to change your mind. I believe you have your mind already made up.

(Avraam tries to read letter into record in which jury forewoman Sarah Bain tells the judge about errors made by the jury in deciding on their verdicts but he says a juror cannot impeach their verdict. Avraam disagrees. He also attacks the credibility of Texas Rangers who kept adding things during trial that were not in their original reports.)

I'd like to say that for those who died at Mount Carmel, I don't believe they died in vain. I do believe the Government was responsible. I don't care what the Government says, how much they try to whitewash it. I have evidence that the CS gas was flammable. Colin Powell gave a report saying CS gas was harmful and flammable, even self- combustible. I don't believe it was right for them to use tanks to go straight into the building where women and children are.

I'm from England. This trial has not convinced me of being guilty. It has not convinced me at all. I don't think it's convinced the jury, because they're certainly unsure. I don't think that you could sentence someone on something that is not clear, not definitive, not facts.

For those who died at Mount Carmel, I won't forget them. David Koresh told [undercover ATF agent Robert] Rodriguez that "we know you're coming," and still they come with helicopters blazing. Davy Aguilera, he was firing one of them. He ain't going to deny it. Helicopters blazing. They know that we know they're coming. The leadership put the agents at risk. If I was the wife of the agents, I would be suing the ATF leadership for being so stupid.

David Koresh did come to the door and did try to stop them. But the plan was, go in through windows, flash-bangs and everything, kill some dogs. The plan went ahead even though they knew the element of surprise had been lost. That's why Davy Aguilera started firing from the helicopter. The criminal charges should be brought against those that did that, because that is a violation of the Comitatus Act. I don't think military equipment should be used against civilians and that is in the Constitution.

Well, it's a sad situation because so many people died for something that was so simple as someone's supposedly converting semiautomatic to full automatic and every gun was legally purchased. You can have automatic weapons, all you need is a license. Of course, the Government wants scapegoats out of all of this and we are the scapegoats.

We're all going to stand before God. And I hope, Judge Smith, that you have a squeaky clean record, because as a judge you're sentencing other people. I hope you can stand before God. I hope you have done everything that you think is right. We're all going to stand before God--if you believe there is a God. I'm sure you do. I'm going to stand before God and I will be happy to tell him, to affirm my convictions. I've searched the Bible, I've searched truth. I believe that David Koresh did teach the Seven Seals.

The stories that are going around are all blown out of proportion. That was the FBI and the ATF feeding the media, the media's done such a good job of slandering the Davidians. That's why there's such a travesty of justice. And the agents came together, to speak to each other about what they'd done. I can't see how you can accept their testimony, their perjured testimony.

Well, I leave it in God's hands. God sits on the throne, and I pray for the agents, I pray for the Davidians. I leave it in God's hands.

(Renos Avraam, 31, a British businessman and musician, survived the fire that burned Mount Carmel. He was sentenced to 40 years, but appealed.)