Cuban Five Conviction Overturned New Trial Ordered
Havana, Aug 9 (AIN) The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of Atlanta has overturned the conviction of the Cuban Five and ordered a new trial outside of Miami, vindicating Cuba’s position that the five men were railroaded to prison.
The unanimous ruling from the three magistrate panel came down on Tuesday, 17 months after it was filed. It recognized the right of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez to a fair and impartial trial in an atmosphere not hostile to the case.
After their arrest in 1998, the Cuban Five were prosecuted for a variety of charges including espionage and endangering US national security. However, in their politically charged 2001 trial in Miami the defense argued their client’s only “crime” was to have infiltrated violent Cuban-American organizations in Miami with a long history of terrorist actions against Cuba.
Despite long stretches in solitary
confinement and hampered from family
visits, the five Cubans have maintained since their arrest that their only objective was to protect Cuban and even US citizens from terrorist attacks.
The appeal court’s 93-page ruling contains as background the arguments given by defense attorneys and is being considered in Cuba and around the world as an important step in the ongoing legal battle.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions had also concluded recently that the Cuban Five were given arbitrary and unduly harsh treatment by the US government.
the delayed process, the defense argued that the US
failed to present evidence on any supposed conspiracy and on many of the charges. Likewise, nearly all the prospective jurors admitted having negative views about Cuba.
With several press outlets informing on the ruling, the speed of Internet brought joy to the 246 Free the Five committees established in 82 countries.