Free the Cuban Five, Cuba’s envoy tells USView(s):
By Ameen Izzadeen
Cuba’s envoy in Colombo has lashed out at the United States saying it has arbitrarily imprisoned five Cuban nationals after a sham trial which bore all the hallmarks of a travesty of justice. Addressing a news conference in Colombo this week, Cuban Charge d’ Affaires Indira Lopez Arguelles said her country urged the United States to release the five Cuban nationals who were arrested in Miami in 1998 during a mission to monitor the activities of anti-Cuba terrorists. They were found guilty of charges related to conspiracy against the United States.
Explaining the case history, the envoy said the five Cubans successfully appealed against the judgement in 2005 because the evidence against them were weak, but the United States prosecutors called for a revision by a full bench of the Court of Appeal.
“In an unexpected move, the government asked the twelve judges of the Court of Appeals of the Eleventh Circuit to review the three-bench Court of Appeal judgement through a so-called banc procedure,” she said adding that the full bench in a split verdict upheld the sentences that ranged from double life-terms to 15 years.
The Charge d’ Affaires said the full bench judgement took no notice of a decision of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The UN working group in 2005 held the imprisonment was arbitrary and in violation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), to which Washington is a party.
Ms. Arguelles said the Cuban Five petitioned the US Supreme Court but it decided not to take up the case, “without giving any explanation”. She charged that the five Cuban prisoners were held in appalling conditions and denied access to mail or visits from relatives.
The envoy said her country demanded that the US release the Cuban Five immediately and unconditionally and urge the international community to raise its voice against the travesty of justice and help Cuba to secure the release of its citizens. Ms. Arguelles also urged the US to lift the embargo on her country, saying that it amounted to “genocide”. She said the 52-year economic blockade of Cuba went against the wishes of the international community.
In November last year, a United Nations General Assembly in a near-unanimous vote once again urged the US to lift the embargo on Cuba. This resolution has been adopted annually since 1992. She said the embargo continued to cause immense suffering and many deaths in Cuba in addition to economic losses running to trillions of dollars.
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