Friday, June 6, 2008

Cuban Five Convictions Upheld but Sentences Were Vacated

Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the convictions but vacated the sentences of the "Cuban Five", Cuban intelligence agents who were accused of spying in the U.S.
Writing for the majority, Judge William H. Pryor concluded that “that the arguments about the suppression of evidence, sovereign immunity, discovery, jury selection and the trial are meritless, and sufficient evidence supports each conviction.” The court also rejected claims that their federal trial should have been moved from Miami because of widespread opposition among Cuban-Americans there to the communist Cuban government. The decision included the life sentence for Gerardo Hernandez, who was convicted of murder conspiracy in the deaths of four Miami-based pilots shot down by Cuban jets in 1996. The panel split 2-1 to uphold Hernandez’ life term. The pilots had flown planes that were part of the Brothers to the Rescue organization, which dropped pro-democracy pamphlets on the ground.

The panel vacated the life terms of three other pilots’ 19-year sentences, agreeing with their contentions that their sentences were improperly configured because no “top secret information was gathered or transmitted.”

The five acknowledged being Cuban agents but said they were not spying on the U.S. They said their focus was on U.S.-based exile groups planning “terrorist” actions against the Castro government.

Source : WSJ Blog

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