International News

The Cuban Five Should Get a Taste of Their Country's Justice System

The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five is making much ado about a couple of "important" legal briefs. It's time for the final appeal of the five Castro spies convicted of espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, and other illegal activities in the U.S. The group will even hold a news conference via phone today to air the "irrefutable evidence" that should force Obama to free the men.

One brief is basically a confession by Gerardo Hernández presented "for the first time in his own words," proving he was not aware his intelligence would be used to shoot down two Brothers to the Rescue aircraft in February 1996.

Hernández -- who was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to two life terms -- claims in his affidavit that his court-appointed Miami lawyer never told him he had the right "to testify on [his] own behalf," a mind-bending concept for any Cuban on the island.

Given the chance, Hernández would have told the jury that he knew nothing about "any alleged plan to shoot down aircraft" and that "any deliberate confrontation outside Cuban territorial airspace was simply something [he] could not have imagined." 

Wow, what a bombshell.

The second brief shows the government "secretly paid highly influential journalists, a distinct, fundamental violation of the premises of a fair trial," according to the memorandum of Antonio Guerrero, another of the Cuban Five. Tell that to Granma.

Technicalities, technicalities. Perhaps the Cuban Five, who are considered heroes on the communist island, should get a taste of their justice system back home.

We say scrap Hernández's "evidence," which is basically his side of the story. Would such a flimsy confession ever be admitted in a Cuban court of law? Heck, does the island even have defense attorneys and juries? And what's so strange about the government paying the media? Why even have a trial?

Maybe the Cuban Five should have the privilege of sharing a Cuban prison cell with Alan Gross, the Maryland man who was sentenced to 15 years this month after being found guilty in Cuba of "acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state."

Gross, a subcontractor on a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program to promote democracy in Cuba, was held in jail for a year before being accused of any wrongdoing.

His wife and his U.S. lawyer attended the trial but weren't even allowed to take notes. Now that's a justice system.

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Jorge Casuso
Contact: Jorge Casuso