Florida-Based Exile Faces Death Penalty in Cuba
Apr. 26, 1996
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A Florida-based exile faces a possible death sentence in Cuba for killing a man while trying to infiltrate the island in 1994.
The Supreme Court is considering a request to sentence convicted murderer Humberto Real Suarez to death, the Cuban government's Prensa Latina news agency said Thursday in a dispatch monitored in Mexico City.
There have been no reported executions in Cuba since 1992.
Prosecutors also have asked the court to sentence six alleged accomplices of Real Suarez to 30 years each in prison.
A decision on the sentences was expected within a few days.
The Prensa Latina report contradicts earlier reports by human rights campaigners in Cuba and political activists in Florida who said the men had already been sentenced by a court in the central province of Villa Clara, where they were captured.
Officials say the seven men were part of an armed, paramilitary group that took a speedboat to Cuba in October 1994 in hopes of forming guerrilla groups to fight against the Communist government.
They landed at Caibarien, 210 miles east of Havana, and apparently tried to stop a car in which four sport fishermen were traveling. Officials said the attackers shot and killed one of the fishermen, 34-year-old Arcelio Rodriguez Garcia, a local Communist Party official.
The seven were soon arrested by Interior Ministry agents.
Executions have been rare in Cuba in recent years. None have been announced since February 1992, when another Cuban exile was put to death for attempting an armed infiltration.
Under Cuban law, sentences can be appealed to the Supreme Court. The Cuban Cabinet also can commute a death sentence.
The seven men were members of the Florida-based National Democratic Unity Party.
Sergio Gonzalez Rosquete, the group's general secretary, told Miami's WLTV-TV that the seven members of his group ``didn't have a chance to properly defend themselves'' in the provincial Cuban court.
``Everything was a joke,'' he told the station, which is part of the Univision network.
He said he understood that the sentences had been imposed and that group members were powerless to help the seven men.
Real's wife, Berta Garcia, told Univision that her husband had been ``very brave'' during the trial, speaking out ``clearly and loudly,'' telling them he had landed in Cuba ``to start guerrilla warfare against Fidel Castro.''