Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Human rights organization calls on US government to review case and mitigate any injustice
Contact: AIUSA media relations office, 202-509-8194
(Washington, D.C.) In a report released today, Amnesty International outlines its concerns with the fairness of the trial of five men convicted in 2001 of acting as intelligence agents for Cuba, among other charges. The five men are serving terms ranging from 15 years to life in US federal prisons.
In a letter sent to United States Attorney General Eric Holder on October 4, Amnesty International noted doubts about the fairness and impartiality of the trial which have not been resolved on appeal. The human rights organization has not taken a position on whether the five men are guilty or innocent of the charges against them.
The five -- Cuban nationals Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Labañino, and US nationals Antonio Guerrero and René González -- were tried in Miami and convicted on various counts, including acting and conspiring to act as unregistered agents of the Republic of Cuba, fraud and misuse of identity documents and, in the case of three of the accused, conspiracy to transmit national defense information. Gerardo Hernández was further convicted of conspiracy to murder, based on his alleged role in the 1996 shoot-down by Cuba of two planes operated by a US anti-Castro organization, Brothers to the Rescue, in which four people died.
Amnesty International’s report said holding the trial in Miami, given the pervasive hostility to the Cuban government in that area, along with media and other events before and during the trial were factors that made it impossible to ensure a wholly impartial jury.
Other concerns included questions about the strength of the evidence to support the conspiracy to murder conviction in the case of Gerardo Hernández, and whether the circumstances of the pre-trial detention of the five men, in which they had limited access to their attorneys and to documents, may have undermined their right to defense.
Amnesty International has called on the government to review the case and mitigate any injustice through the clemency process or other appropriate means, should further legal appeals prove ineffective.
Amnesty International has also reiterated its concern about the repeated denials by the US government of temporary visas to allow the Cuban wives of two of the prisoners, René González and Gerardo Hernández, to visit their husbands. The organization is concerned that such a blanket or permanent bar on visits with their wives constitutes additional punishment and is contrary to international standards for the humane treatment of prisoners and states’ obligation to protect family life. Amnesty International continues to urge the government to grant the wives temporary visas on humanitarian grounds.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.