The conviction of the five Cubans in the United States is a political case covered with legal subterfuges

The conviction of the five Cubans in the United States is a political case covered with legal subterfuges

By Fernando Arellano Ortiz

According to the affirmations of the Cuban lawyer Nuris Piñero Sierra, the United States, in an obvious case of human rights violation, mounted a whole charade to sentence five Cuban citizens accused of espionage to high prison terms in 2001.

The United States, in an obvious case of human rights violation, mounted a whole charade scheme to sentence five Cuban citizens accused of espionage to high prison terms in 2001. "This is nothing more than a political case, which is covered with legal subterfuges," says Nuris Piñero Sierra, a Cuban lawyer who assists her relatives in Havana.

Although the government of Cuba accepts that the five were its agents, but in order to monitor the activities against the island of the extremist groups in Cuban exile in the United States, it categorically denies that espionage was carried out on that nation. Nine years after their arrest, these Cuban antiterrorists are still in prison, without a single reason that socially contains a danger to prosecute them, adds the lawyer for the relatives of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González.

His arrest took place on September 12, 1998, and his trial was peppered with witness manipulation, pressure from the Cuban-American mafia in Miami and the deployment of a montage to show the five, declared heroes by the Cuban government, as criminals.

Piñero Sierra, who is also the General Director of Specialized Services of Collective Law Firms of Cuba, also denounces the multiple physical and psychological torture that during all this time the detainees and their families have been subjected by the North American authorities.

What is the legal situation of the five Cuban citizens imprisoned in the United States?

Three appeal hearings have already been held and it is possible that a fourth will occur, because in the last one that took place on August 20, 2007 at the request of the defense, the judge asked the Prosecutor's Office to present all the evidence they had been denied to the five Cubans and their lawyers, thus limiting the right to defense.

The United States accuses them of being spies in the service of the Cuban government. What is your opinion?

That is a falsehood, they never acted as spies nor were they spies. Espionage in the United States requires that there be a victim State and a favored State, that the information obtained be considered national security and protected, that there be an intention by the person who obtains it, none of the five was accused of espionage . Three were charged with conspiracy to commit espionage, but it was not proven. And the other two have minor charges of being undeclared foreign agents, but it happens that to be so they have to be at the service of a country and put a State in a detrimental situation, and they did not.

So what charges are they charged with?

They are accused of conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States for obtaining information from the far-right organizations of the Cuban-American community based in Miami that is totally public and that appears in the press. The Prosecutor's Office says that although they obtained public information, they evidently wanted to obtain confidential national security information, but that was not proven. In the trial that lasted seven months, important US experts and personalities such as the former director of the CIA, General Clapper, declared that not a single document in the evidence was a national security document, much less a danger to States. United.

But this is not a more political than legal case?

Of course, this is an eminently political case that they have tried to mask with a legal issue. For what reason? Because in the United States, any person who is arrested can agree not to go to trial and plead guilty, then no fact is discussed but the sentences are beginning to be mitigated. Proposals were made to the five that they plead guilty and not go to trial for being considered innocent and for not having carried out any socially dangerous act or omission that typifies a criminal figure. Yet they went to trial.

How many years were they sentenced?

Gerardo Hernández was sentenced to two life sentences plus fifteen years; Ramón Labañino to a life sentence and eighteen years; Antonio Guerrero to a life sentence and ten years; Fernando González at 19 years old; and René González at 15 years old. René is an American citizen and he already has the right to have supervised freedom, but he is not granted it, alleging that he has a violent character and for that reason he has to remain in prison, however all his prison evaluations have given satisfactory results and he is a person who he has prestige and good reputation where he is confined.

What is your role in the judicial process, taking into account that you do not have a visa to enter North American territory?

I was contacted by the North American lawyers who criminally assist the five to help them obtain evidence that demonstrates the need for Cuba to defend itself against the terrorist organizations that finance and process criminal actions against our country. At a certain point in the work, it was decided that I should visit the United States to continue carrying out our actions, but the North American authorities denied me a visa despite knowing that I am a trial attorney who handles criminal, civil and immigration matters for US citizens.

How far will both the Cuban government and you lawyers go in this case?

When the Cuban people and the entire world learn of this case and appreciate the injustice and the arbitrary and illegal nature of this detention, they cannot stop the fight until the immediate freedom of the five is achieved. I am optimistic that we will succeed because when law and justice conflict, the only way is to fight.

When do we know in advance the position of the United States vis-à-vis Cuba because you affirm that you are optimistic?

Because the sentences are illegal and disproportionate. Furthermore, the truth must prevail over lies and deception; and the American people are beginning to learn about this case. The United Nations Group of Rapporteurs on Arbitrary Detentions has ruled that this detention is illegal, and Amnesty International has done so in the same sense. The appellate court on August 9, 2005 ruled for a new trial. When international lawyers' unions learn about this matter, they join the campaign to tear down the wall of silence and for the truth to be revealed. Also, this is a noble cause and that is why I am optimistic.

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International Network for the Freedom of the Five

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