Cuban Five Appeal Begins in Atlanta
Today a US federal appeals court began reconsidering whether the "Cuban Five" - 5 Cubans convicted of spying on violent Miami exile groups - are going to get a new trial. They were arrested in 1998 and given long sentances (including 3 life terms), by a Miami area jury, which was later (unprecidentedly) found by an Court to be fatally biased and unfair. This same court later overruled that decision, bringing us here to deal with the trial's other serious problems...
In Cuba, the Five are considered hereos for infiltrating groups connected to terrorist groups who were placing bombs in hotels in Havana in the mid 1990s and were planning more. The Cuban government says the trial was political and accuses the US of double standards in the fight against terror (particularly coming a few days after one of the actual terrorists were let out early from jail after doing jsut 22 months).
The court in Atlanta is hearing oral submissions on defence claims about lack of evidence and the length of the sentences. It must then decide if there are grounds for a retrial.
The 5 men's lawyers are arguing that no evidence was produced in the courtroom that proved the prosecutors chief accusation - that they were guilty of obtaining and transmitting US military secrets to Havana. The prosecution broke Court rules in making this accusation and numerous improprieties were observed in the closing arguments. Numerous ex-high ranking US officials who viewed the evidence said in Court, that it showed no secrets or sensitive information was comprimised. The 5 were using 100% open sources like newspapers and flight patterns.
Defense lawyers will also argue the 3 life terms, 12 and 19 year sentences were unduly harsh, considering similar cases. An American agent of Sadaam Hussein was given only 4 years for doing similar work for Iraq. Also, the very fact that the US sees it their right to work covertly in other countries to thwart terrorism. Why can't Cuba???
Meanwhile, the US press continues to misrepresent the case, calling them spies in their headlines. The Miami Herald reports on opening arguments on Day 1.
There are more than 300 chapters of "FREE THE FIVE" groups worldwide, yet few Americans know about the case. The head of the gruops said, ''If the American people only knew of the mission of these men, they'd call for their freedom immediately,. They fought terrorism peacefully. They only monitored and reported. And that's what's so egregious about this case.'
Labels: cuba cuban five war on terrorism