The words of Roberto Gonzalez, a lawyer born to a Cuban family that fled to the United States during the dictatorship and returned to Cuba following the triumph of the Revolution, come to mind as I begin to reflect on this issue. Like René, he was born in the United States during his family's sojourn there. He has been fighting tirelessly to obtain the release of his brother René, who endures cruel and unjust imprisonment, as do four other heroes who sought to defend their country in the struggle against terrorism.
"The worst thing that can happen to us is to allow a sense of defeat or victory paralyze us; we will have won in the case of the Five when they have set foot in Havana… for this is the kind of trial that is won with facts many times over but is lost before the Law, by virtue of the judges' decision".
These are wise and sensible words, spoken by a true expert at war against shameless actions. Even he expressed his surprise at what transpired.
During the Round Table program, we were given a sense of the importance of the testimonies afforded, in the city of Atlanta, by 73 world-renowned experts in international Law. There, it was shown beyond the shadow of a doubt that the felonies imputed to the accused, resulting in convictions unanimously approved by a supposedly impartial jury, in the last community on Earth where one could expect a fair verdict, were never in fact committed. Each and every one of statements made at the Round Table or over the phone, by those who spoke and those who have yet to speak, must be read word by word and analyzed.
In real espionage cases, recently tried in the United States, convictions usually do not exceed a 10-year prison sentence. The charge of conspiracy to commit espionage brought against our five compatriots has not even been proven. Their cruel and unusual fate, and that of their relatives, reflects the perfidious overt policy pursued by Washington of using terrorism against the Cuban people, a policy which, for nearly half a century, has been in violation of the most elementary norms set down by the United Nations and encroaching upon the sovereignty of nations.
There are many important and proven facts that I could add, but I wish to be brief so that these words may be transcribed and published by the Cuban press. The most important thing is for our people to develop a solid and unshakable conscience of these realities.
Fidel Castro Ruz
August 22, 2007
Five’s defense team exposes errors and intimidation of the jury during the Miami trial
ON August 20, the 11th Circuit Appeals Court in Atlanta heard convincing allegations by the legal team defending the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters imprisoned in the United States.
The defense lawyers submitted that the prosecution committed serious procedural errors and used intimidation to pressure the jury of the initial trial, which took place in Miami in a climate of apparent hostility toward the five heroes.
For the first time eminent foreign legal professionals were present at the hearing of the case of Gerardo Hernández, Fernando González, Ramón Labaniño, Antonio Guerrero and René González, known as the Five in the international campaign for their release.
Alicia Jrapko, a member of the International Free the Five Committee, told the Cuban radio and TV Roundtable program over the phone that the presence of prestigious international lawyers was much larger than before and signified strong backing for the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters.
Juan Guzmán, the Chilean attorney who brought charges against the ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet, was present and informed the Roundtable program (again by phone) that the U.S. government was unable to refute the defense truths, as reflected in the international media.
Guzmán appreciated the questions put by the sitting judges and stated that there is really no evidence to justify the charges of espionage against the prisoners, nor that of "conspiring to commit murder," brazenly brought against two of them.
It was also abundantly clear that Miami was not an appropriate venue for the original trial, where the Five were handed down sentences ranging from 15 years’ imprisonment to two life terms, because the jury was intimidated, a point firmly established by the defense appeal, Guzmán added.
The Chilean legal professional thought that the defense achieved its main objective: to communicate the poor conduct of the U.S. government and the shortcomings of the jury selected for the Miami trial.
"In line with my legal experience, my impression was that those who have knowledge of this case would have to rule in favor of the five Cubans," Guzmán affirmed.
The multinational TV networks Telesur and CNN covered aspects of the hearing and antecedents in the case of the Five.
This September the Cuban patriots will have completed nine years of arbitrary detention in the United States after they were sentenced for crimes that they did not commit in a rigged trial in Miami, lacking in procedural guarantees, as confirmed by UN experts and three judges at the Court of Appeals in the first hearing. (AIN)
Translated by Granma International
Cuban Five Saga Continues
In reviewing what took place Monday at the Cuban Five’s appeal hearing in Atlanta, attorney Roberto Gonzalez said the campaign to secure their release must continue until they return home.
Roberto, brother of Cuban Five member Rene Gonzalez, was at the hearing where the growing support for the cause was more than evident. He spoke Tuesday on the Cuban TV program The Round Table.
Gonzalez said the defense team did a good job in presenting its arguments and he highlighted the presence of 73 personalities from around the world on hand to witness the hearing.
Their presence helps break the wall of silence the US government has tried to maintain on the Cuban Five case, said the attorney. He said the three judge panel listened to the 27 objections lodged by the defense that marked the improper behavior of the government in the 2001 trial against the Cubans.
"There was no information involving the national security of the United States, nor request for information that had to do with national defense," noted Gonzalez, "So where’s the conspiracy? There’s no evidence."
Addressing the Round Table audience by telephone, defense attorney Paul McKenna referred to the direct questions asked by the judges at Monday’s hearing on the supposed proof that Gerardo Hernandez was involved in the downing of the planes (for which he received a double life sentence). McKenna said the prosecution had no response.
"I felt that the magistrates saw the errors committed by the prosecution," he concluded.
Ramsey Clark, a former US attorney general, was also present at the hearing in Atlanta. He stressed by telephone the support for the Cuban Five expressed by the presidents of major lawyers associations from several countries, present in Atlanta, and many people from the US.
A country that wants to eradicate terrorism cannot arrest the people that are fighting against terrorism, said Clark. He further noted that the arguments presented by the government were especially weak.
Arrested in September 1998, the Cuban Five have spent nearly nine years in prison after a politically charged trial in Miami that broke most established legal norms. Without presenting evidence, the prosecution obtained a guilty verdict on espionage and conspiracy charges. Harsh sentences were dished out against the men who had penetrated Miami-based terrorist groups to inform on their plots against Cuba.
Italian Jurist Blasts Injustice in Cuban Five Case
Italian attorney Fabio Marcelli participated as an observer at the oral hearing held Monday in the appeal of the Cuban Five; he said that if the case was purely a legal matter the defense would surely win.
The representative of the International Association of Democratic Jurists said the defense did a good job arguing its points and came out strengthened in its legal stance seeking justice.
In statements to Juventud Rebelde newspaper, Marcelli said the panel of magistrates at the Atlanta Appeals Court was comprised by two judges that already showed their objectivity when they previously said the Cuban Five’s convictions should be overturned.
However, the highly politicized nature of the 2001 trial held in Miami against Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, weighs heavy, said Marcelli.
Three plus years after their detention in September 1998, the five Cubans were convicted on trumped up charges including espionage and conspiracy and were handed extremely harsh sentences.
Marcelli said there is no time limit on the court to make a ruling on the appeal. He noted that in the past the court has taken from 6 to 17 months to make a ruling.
He said the foot dragging is a negative aspect of the US legal system and another violation of the rights of the accused.
Marcelli criticized the attitude of US authorities who believe there is such a thing as good terrorism when it serves their objectives, in contradiction to the expectations of the international community.
Referring to the limitations established by the US government on the visitation rights of the Cuban Five, Marcelli said this represents a real form of torture.
The member of the International Association of Democratic Jurists said the defense team was severely hampered in representing its clients, a clear violation as the panel itself recognized.
Marcelli added that the organization he represents promotes the participation of jurists as international observers in the case, while also proposing a conference on the issue in which aspects of international law would be presented.
The Italian recalled that in 2005 a three-judge panel of the same appeals court overturned the sentences and ordered a new trial, a ruling that was then overturned in 2006 on a 10-2 vote by the full court after a prosecution appeal.
The ruling that would have meant a new trial, together with the opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, should have obliged the US authorities to release the Cuban Five, but they remain behind bars. (PL)
Injustice against the Five and impunity for terrorism
BY ORLANDO ORAMAS LEON— Granma daily staff writer—
GERARDO, Ramón, René, Fernando and Antonio are still behind bars in the United States, three of them in maximum security prisons, and all of them subjected to the hateful revenge of those in Washington who have made them the target of reprisals against the Cuban Revolution.
The "hole," lack of communication, and psychological pressures are some of the weapons that have been used to try to break their integrity, in addition to the unjust and rigged trial that put them in jail.
Recently Gerardo has been informed that his correspondence will be delayed for several months. What a paradox, while at the same time terrorist Orlando Bosch, who is enjoying a pardon granted by the United States, is openly proclaiming his crimes, including the sabotage of a Cubana Aviation passenger plane in October 1976 and several assassination attempts against President Fidel Castro.
Thus, when the U.S. 11th Court of Appeals of Atlanta has decided not to accept the considerations of three judges regarding the need for a retrial for the Five due to the biased atmosphere of Miami, Bosch is making makes statements to the Barcelona daily La Vanguardia boasting of his crimes.
This is further evidence of the double standard of the Bush administration’s supposed global crusade against terrorism, which holds the five Cubans as political hostages while turning a blind eye to the confessions of anti-Cuba terrorists recently published in the U.S. press.
Writing in the Los Angeles Times, published in California near where Gerardo is serving two life terms plus 15 years, Carol J. Williams maintains that conspiracies such as those of Robert Ferro (caught with more than 1,500 weapons), the purchase of arms and helicopters revealed by José Antonio Llama, and other anti-Cuba plots should help the judicial cause of our brothers.
In other words, those conspiracies confirm Cuba’s need for these patriots’ mission to infiltrate Miami criminal groups in order to prevent terrorist attacks against the island, given that more than 3,000 people have already been killed along with a similar number of wounded and incapacitated, superseding the tragic balance of those killed in the attack on the Twin Towers.
The statements of Bosch, the doctor of death, were corroborated in the Times article.
He confirmed to La Vanguardia that "there were many attempts" to kill Fidel. He also told of the plan to assassinate the Cuban president in Chile in 1971, as well as the attempt on the Cuban ambassador in Buenos Aires. "Afterwards we did a thousand things," gloated the man pardoned by George Bush Sr.
He also bragged about the Barbados crime. "For me (that plane with 73 passengers on board) is a war target," and he continued "Communists all of them. The athletes were wearing five gold medals for fencing… it was Fidel’s glory…"
It would never occur to anyone in the United States to publicly admit to plotting a bomb attack, or to having done so in the past. It would mean prison for sure, unless the target was Cuba, which the White House has a permanent need to destroy.
World event for Freedom for the Five underway
THE world event demanding the release of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters unjustly imprisoned in the United States gets underway today, Tuesday, with the presentation of the Benito Juárez International Prize to their family members.
This prize is given by different Mexican social groups to world leaders and figures who have done outstanding work in defense of the sovereignty and self-determination of their peoples.
On awarding the prize, the organizing committee emphasized that the lives and resistance of those Heroes of the Republic of Cuba are a clear testimony of the unyielding commitment of their political and peaceful struggle in the legitimate defense of their country’s self-determination and the inalienable right of the nation to have the government that emerged from the Revolution.
Social movements, friendship with Cuba associations, deputies and progressive parties from all parts of the world are heading up this event that culminates on October 6, when the 30th anniversary of the sabotage of the Cubana airliner over Barbados, which cost the lives of 73 innocent people, will be commemorated. (AIN)
Partial list of jurists and other attendees at the
Oral Arguments hearing of the Cuban Five
Monday, August 20, 2007
1. Dagoberto Rodríguez, Chief, Cuban Interests Section, Washington DC
2. Roberto González, Support to Cuban Five legal team, Cuban attorney, brother of René González
3. Judge Juan Guzmán, Chilean judge, directed the prosecution of Augusto Pinochet
4. Ramsey Clark, Former U.S. Attorney General, international human rights attorney
5. Cynthia McKinney, Former member, U.S. Congress (two terms)
6. Rafael Anglada, Member, Cuban Five defense team; attorney in Puerto Rico
7. Paolo Lins e Silva, President of the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA), attorney in Brazil
8. Dr. Cezar Britto Aragão, President, The Attorney’s Order of Brazil; Dir., Int’l Relations of Brazilian Assoc. of Labor Attorneys; Advisor to Econ. And Social Development Council for Human Rights
9. Uriel Gómez Ceballos, Ex-magistrate, Bogotá, Colombia
10. Dr. Norman Paech MdB, Expert in International law, member of Parliament of the Left, Germany
11. Eddy Boutmans, Former member, Belgian Senate (1995-1999); State secretary for Development cooperation in Belgian fed’l government for the Green party, author on Belgian law
12. Paul Bekaert, Human rights attorney, President, Bar Association of Bruges (Flemish Belgium) representing 7,000 attorneys; Board member, Human Rights League
13. Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild
14. Eberhard Schultz, International human rights attorney, Basta Ya network, Germany
15. Edith Flamand, Belgian attorney, Progressive Lawyers Network
16. Fabio Marcelli, Deputy Secretary-General, IADL, attorney in Italy
17. Vanessa Ramos,President, American Association of Jurists, USA
18. Father Geoffrey Bottoms, Coordinator, British Campaign to Free the Miami Five; English priest
19. Dwyer, Bernie, Correspondent, Radio Habana Cuba
20. Sloan, William, President, Canada Association of American Jurists; Quebec attorney
21. Tecla M. Faranda, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Italy; attorney in Milan
22. Gloria La Riva, Coordinator, National Committee to Free the Five, USA
23. Victor Chirinos, Venezuela, member, Latin American Parliament
24. Andrés Gómez, National Coordinator, Antonio Maceo Brigade, Miami
25. Alicia Jrapko, Co-coordinator, International Committee to Free the Cuban Five
26. José Pertierra, Attorney for Venezuela in Posada extradition matter
27. Jeanne Mirer, Continental President, International Association of Democratic Lawyers
28. Judge Claudia Morcom, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge (Michigan), retired, civil rights activist
29. Martín Sánchez Parodi, Washington attorney
30. Fernanda Batista Loureiro, Journalist for the Brazilian Order of Attorneys
31. Elizabeth Sanchez, Venezuela, assistant to Victor Chirinos
32. Kathleen Cleaver, Professor, Emory College of Law; author
33. Brian Spears, Civil rights attorney, Atlanta, member of National Lawyers Guild
34. Gary Flack, Atlanta attorney, Co-host of Cuban 5 reception
35. William Paparian, Criminal defense attorney, former mayor of Pasadena California
36. Barbara Martin, Attorney, Public Defenders Office, Los Angeles
37. Enrique Arévalo, Immigration attorney, Los Angeles
38. Sobukwe Shukura, Co-coordinator, National Network on Cuba
39. Cheryl La Bash, Michigan Committee to Free the Cuban Five
40. Jacinto Valdez, President, Alliance of Workers of the Cuban Community, Miami
41. Damian Díaz, President, José Martí Association, Miami
42. Reinero Mesa, Member, José Martí Association, Miami
43. Ramón Coll, Treasurer, La Alianza Martiana (Marti Alliance), Miami
44. Morales, Harold, President, La Alianza Martiana (Martí Alliance), Miami
45. Tony Llanso, Member, Antonio Maceo Brigade, Miami
46. Rosa Peñate, Member, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
47. Christopher Banks, Member, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
48. Silvio Rodrigues, Member, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
49. Geertrui Lagrain, Belgium
50. Azize Tank, Germany
http://youtube.com/watch?v=CCdGdpeNps8 Video: "Mission against Terror"
http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2007/agosto/lun6/32NYT.html "The New York Times" article
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/ondemand/rams/nh27166____2007.ram BBC interview with Gerardo Hernández, one of the Cuban Five. Or read it at the site of: http://www.antiterroristas.cu
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