[Ppnews] US judge re-sentences Cuban Five to 22 years
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 13 18:12:38 EDT 2009
Cuban spy re-sentenced to 22 years prison in US
By Juan Castro Olivera (AFP) 2 hours ago
MIAMI A judge on Tuesday resentenced one of
five members of the biggest Cuban spy ring broken
up in the United States to 22 years in jail, down
from a previous life sentence that was deemed too harsh.
The high-profile case has been an obstacle to
improving historically strained US relations with
the only one-party communist regime in the Americas.
Federal Judge Joan Lenard gave a sentence of 262
months (21 years, 10 months) and five years
probation to Antonio Guerrero, for gathering and
relaying US military information to Cuba. The
sentence was just over the 20 years prosecutors had sought.
Guerrero committed "very serious offenses against the US," the judge said.
"The government did not present evidence that the
defendant obtained top secret information, but he
worked to obtain such information," Lenard stressed.
Attorney Leonard Weinglass, who represented
Guerrero, said the outcome was not what he expected.
"I'm surprised with this decision," said
Weinglass. "We negotiated an agreement with the
government in good faith. Hopefully, he will be at home in seven years."
Cast as heroes in Havana, the "Cuban Five" --
Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Ramon
Labanino and Fernando Gonzalez -- were arrested
in 1998 and convicted three years later.
Guerrero, 50, is an airport construction engineer
by training born in the United States to Cuban parents.
Earlier, three of them were sentenced to life in
prison and the other two were given sentences of
between 15 and 19 years. Cuba regards them as
political prisoners and has lobbied intensely for their release.
Lenard this week accepted requests from Labanino
and Gonzalez' attorneys to delay their sentencing
pending a probe into whether the US government
had determined how much damage the spies' work had caused.
An appeals court earlier found the original
sentences for the Cubans to be excessive and
ruled that new ones should be handed down.
Court documents claim the Cubans were looking for
US military information, and to monitor groups of
Cuban exiles opposed to the Havana government.
Cuba has acknowledged the men were agents but
claims they were working to stop terrorist attacks on Cuban soil.
The court developments come amid a slight easing
in tensions between the two countries, dating
back to the Cold War. The neighbors do not have
full diplomatic ties, and the United States has
had an economic embargo on Havana for decades.
In April, US President Barack Obama authorized
travel and money transfers to the island by US
nationals of Cuban descent and a month later
proposed restarting US-Cuba talks on migration issues suspended since 2003.
But while Cuban President Raul Castro has said he
would be willing to swap jailed political
dissidents for the five imprisoned men, the US
government has rejected the idea.
The United States also has said it will not, for
now, seek to end the full trade embargo, which
dates to 1962. Instead it has urged Havana to
show progress on human rights, an approach that has not previously borne fruit.
Copyright © 2009 AFP.
US judge cuts Cuban spy sentence
A judge has reduced the jail sentence of a Cuban
man convicted of spying in the US from life to nearly 22 years.
Antonio Guerrero is one of a group known as the
Cuban Five who were jailed in the US in 2001 for
spying for the then government of Fidel Castro.
The resentencing by a federal judge in Miami
followed an appeals court ruling that his life term was too harsh.
The case has long been a cause of friction with
Cuba, where the men are considered national heroes.
The five - Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino,
Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene
Gonzalez - were found guilty in 2001 of
infiltrating US military bases and Cuban exile
groups, and giving the information to Cuba.
Hernandez was also convicted of conspiracy to
commit murder over the shooting-down in 1996 of
two planes flown by a Cuban exile group, Brothers to the Rescue.
The men, who received terms ranging from 15 years
to life, have made several appeals against their convictions and sentences.
Last year, an appeals court upheld their
convictions but ordered three of the group -
Guerrero among them - to be resentenced.
Guerrero's lawyers had reached a deal with
prosecutors last week on a 20-year sentence.
But in court on Tuesday, District Judge Joan
Lenard handed down a slightly longer term of 21
years and 10 months, saying Guerrero had
committed "very serious offences" and had made no statement of contrition.
In June, the US Supreme Court refused to hear an
appeal against the group's convictions.
The five argue that they did not get a fair
hearing at the original trial in Miami because of
anti-Castro sentiment in the city.
US prosecutors have insisted the men were found
guilty on hard evidence, while Cuban exile groups
say they were justly punished.
The Cuban government says the men were not in
Miami to spy on the US but to prevent anti-Castro
exile groups from launching what it calls terrorist attacks on Cuba.
They have been in US custody since 1998.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/10/13 21:50:42 GMT
© BBC MMIX
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