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U.S.-Based Exile Condemned to Death for Murder

May 9, 1996

HAVANA, Cuba (AP) _ Cuba has ordered the execution of a U.S.-based exile who allegedly murdered a fisherman during an armed raid on the island, the government confirmed Wednesday.

Cuba’s supreme court will automatically review the death sentence against Humberto Eladio Real Suarez of Florida, the state-run Prensa Latina news agency said. Cuba’s Cabinet also can commute the sentence if it is upheld.

Six men who accompanied Real Suarez during the October 1994 raid were sentenced to 15-30 years in prison, according to a copy of the court order that was distributed to reporters by local human-rights groups on Tuesday. It was dated April 30.

There have been no reported executions in Cuba since February 1992, when another Cuban exile was put to death for attempting an armed infiltration. No execution date was announced for Real Suarez.

Real Suarez and other members of the Florida-based National Democratic Unity Party landed near Caibarien, 210 miles east of Havana, on Oct. 15, 1994, intending ``to carry out acts of sabotage and attacks on military units,″ Prensa Latina said.

Prosecutors said the group seized a car driven by four sport fishermen and killed one of the men, 34-year-old Arcelio Rodriguez Garcia, a regional Communist Party official. They were captured soon afterward.

The sentence was handed down by five judges of a court in the provincial capital of Villa Clara in central Cuba. The other men sentenced were Armando Sosa, Miguel Diaz, Jose Falcon, Jesus Rojas, Pedro Guisao and Lazaro Gonzalez.

In the years following Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, Cuban exile groups staged many raids on Cuba. The most famous example was the failed Bay of Pigs invasion on April 17, 1961.

But in recent years, the U.S. government has strongly discouraged such armed efforts to overthrow the Castro regime.

The sentencing of Real Suarez comes at a time of increasing tension between the United States and Cuba. Cuban officials have recently warned their people of possible U.S. military intervention.

In February, the Cuban military downed two civilian airplanes flown by an anti-Castro exile group based in Florida. The next month, President Clinton signed into law the Helms-Burton Act, tightening the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba.

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