Five Cuban dissidents sentenced for… “disturbing the peace”

This is hot off the Miami Herald’s website:

Five Cuban dissidents arrested 19 months ago and held without trial ever since finally got their day in court — and two-year prison sentences.

Emilio Leyva Pérez, Manuel Pérez Soria, Lázaro Alonso Román and René Montes de Oca Martija were sentenced to two years in prison. Independent journalist Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, a correspondent of the Miami-based Payo Libre and Nueva Prensa Cubana news agencies, was sentenced to 22 months.

They were arrested way back in July 2005 for protesting the slaughter of 41 innocent Cubans by Castro’s government in 1994, during the infamous ramming and subsequent sinking of the tugboat “13 de Marzo.” I wonder if they’ll get credit for time served like our criminals often do?

Anywho, there’s more:

”They got very long sentences, considering they are innocent,” said Elizardo Sánchez, head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation. “The victims wound up the accused.”

Nine days after the 2005 protest, another 30 people who planned a demonstration at the French embassy also were jailed. The last of those detainees were freed just three weeks ago. They were never formally charged.

The cases drew widespread condemnation from Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, including Reporters Without Borders.

Sánchez said Monday’s sentences were unusual in that Cuban courts have not, of late, been handing down long sentences. Rather, state security has increased its harassment of dissidents in what he called a new ”widespread but low intensity” strategy.

The article goes on to mention an unrelated story: “Amauris Samartino — a former Cuban dissident expelled from Bolivia for criticizing President Evo Morales and Fidel Castro — has been granted asylum in Norway.” Babalu Blog posted Samartino’s story yesterday.

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