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France Dismisses Castro Complaint

February 26, 1999

PARIS (AP) _ A French judge threw out three civil complaints against Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Friday, arguing that French law did not cover the crimes.

Earlier, the state prosecutor had refused to consider the three complaints in criminal court, but under French law an investigating judge must decide on how to proceed in civil court cases.

Judge Herve Stephan, who also heads the investigation into the death of Princess Diana, ruled that French law was not applicable and therefore the cases could not go forward.

Brought by Cuban exiles and a French photographer who spent time in a Cuban jail, the complaints accuse Castro of crimes against humanity as well as international drug trafficking.

Lawyer Serge Lewish said he would appeal. Lewish represents Ileana de la Guardia, the exiled daughter of Cuban Col. Antonio de la Guardia, who was convicted and executed in 1989 along with three other officials for allegedly smuggling drugs.

Stephan ruled that de la Guardia complaint did not hold up because she was not able to prove she had been hurt by the drug trafficking, judicial sources said.

In the other two cases, French photographer Pierre Golendorf, who spent 2 1/2 years in a Cuban jail, and Cuban artist Lazaro Jordana, jailed four years for illegally leaving the country, had filed two complaints accusing Castro of crimes against humanity, including torture and murder.

The judge ruled in those two complaints that French law was not applicable.

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