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Cuba Seeks 20-30 Year Sentences

September 17, 1999

HAVANA (AP) _ Prosecutors are seeking sentences ranging from 20 to 30 years in prison for three Guatemalans charged with terrorism for attempting to place bombs at tourist spots last year, the government said Friday.

The Communist Party daily newspaper Granma said that prosecutors have recommended 30 years for Miguel Abraham Herrera Morales and 20 years for Maria Elena Gonzalez, who were arrested in March 1998, after trying to plant explosive devices in public places.

Prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of 25 years for Gonzalez’s husband, Jazid Ivan Fernandez, who was arrested two weeks later, when he arrived in Cuba to try to get his wife out of jail. Authorities say that at the time, he confessed to involvement in the plan to bomb tourist installations.

A court date was not announced for the three, who remain behind bars awaiting trial.

Two Salvadorans, Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon and Otto Rene Rodriguez Llerena, were sentenced to death in a related case in March. Their cases are being appealed.

Cruz Leon was convicted of planting bombs in five hotels and one restaurant, including one blast that killed an Italian tourist in 1997. Rodriguez Llerena was convicted of planting a bomb in one hotel and of plotting similar bombings at sites sacred to Cuban communists, including the tomb of revolutionary icon Ernesto ``Che″ Guevara in the central city of Santa Clara.

Last year, Cuba charged that the five Central Americans had belonged to a Central America-based network directed and funded by the Cuban American National Foundation, based in Miami.

The foundation denied those accusations at the time and has always denied using violence in its campaigns against the communist government of Fidel Castro.

Cuba also has charged that the five defendants got their instructions from Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban exile accused by Cuban authorities of responsibility in the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner that killed 73 people.

Posada Carriles was twice acquitted of that action, but spent nine years in a Venezuelan prison before escaping in 1985.

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