Tags: cuba political prisoners

Cuba To Release Five More Political Prisoners

Friday, 22 Oct 2010 07:10 AM


HAVANA — Cuba has authorized the release of five extra dissidents who are not among the 52 already set for freedom under a landmark deal reached in May, the Catholic Church said.

They "have accepted to leave prison and be transferred to Spain," the Havana archbishopric said in a statement, naming them as Juana Maria Nieves, Domingo Ozuna, Juan Francisco Marimon, Misael Mena and Jose Luis Ramil.

The development came hours after the European parliament awarded its prestigious Sakharov human rights prize to Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas, who immediately called for an end to Cuba's communist "dictatorship."

Farinas, who heads the outlawed online news agency Cubanacan Press, held a 135-day hunger strike earlier this year that nearly killed him. He refused to eat until it was clear the Cuban government would release dissidents.

Under a deal brokered with the Roman Catholic Church in May, Cuba agreed to free 52 of 75 political prisoners who were sentenced in 2003 to prison terms of up to 28 years after a major crackdown.

Thirty-nine have been released so far under the deal, under which all are due to be flown to Spain by November. But 13 of them are refusing to leave and remain behind bars.

The prisoner release showed Havana was keen to avoid a repeat of the death in detention of dissident Orlando Zapata on February 23.

Regime critics say it is too soon to tell whether the transfers mark a shift away from decades of hardline policy by ailing Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and his brother, President Raul Castro.

The latest moves come ahead of a meeting Monday of EU foreign ministers to review the bloc's hardline policy toward Cuba. The United States steadfastly refuses to lift its 62-year-old economic embargo on the communist regime.

US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said simply that Washington took note of Cuba's prisoner releases "after efforts of the Catholic Church and the government of Spain."

Meanwhile three different political prisoners -- Ciro Perez, 61, Arturo Suarez, 46, and Rolando Jimenez, 41 -- who were not linked to the 2003 crackdown were released and were on their way to Spain, their families in Havana confirmed late Thursday.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved

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2010-10-22
Friday, 22 Oct 2010 07:10 AM
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