Resentencing hearing for two of the Miami Five

News from Cuba | Saturday, 10 October 2009

At the request of the Cuban Five defense team, Miami Federal Court Judge Joan Lenard has issued an order on Friday postponing the resentencing hearing for Fernando Gonzalez and Ramon Labanino, two of the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters unjustly imprisoned in the US for more than a decade.

The Cuban Five Gerardo Hernndez, Ramn Labaino, Fernando Gonzlez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez, in a trial plagued with irregularities and held in a highly biased Miami court, were given harsh sentences ranging from 15 years to consecutive life terms plus 15 years. The five Cubans were working to uncover information about terrorist activities being planned and carried out against Cuba by ultra-rightwing organizations based in southern Florida with a long record of terrorist actions against Cuba and the Cuban people.

When they turned their information over to authorities they were arrested and have been in jail ever since. UN Working Group reviewing the case back in 2005 determined that the trial did not take place in a climate of objectivity and impartiality, which is required in order to conclude on the observance of the standards of a fair trial. The UN report also charges that the Cuban Five were wrongfully held for seventeen months in solitary confinement after their arrest, and that their lawyers were deprived of the opportunity to examine all of the available evidence before the government invoked the Classified Information Protection Act.

Shortly following the UN ruling, on August 9, 2005, a three judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of Atlanta issued a 93-page reversal of the initial conviction as well as nullified the sentences. In response to the reversal, the Bush administration and Attorney General Gonzales vehemently pushed for the US Solicitor General to appeal the verdict of the three-judge panels decision before all twelve judges of the 11th circuit in Atlanta. This time the court bowed down to pressure from the Bush administration and reversed the previous pro-

Cuban Five ruling by a vote of 10-2.

In 2008, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of all five prisoners, but ruled that the sentences handed down to Labaino, Guerrero, and Fernando Gonzlez were excessive. As such, the three men were transferred last August to the Federal Detention Center in Miami where they have been awaiting a resentencing hearing scheduled for October 13.

According to the Cubadebate website, the new resentencing date set for Fernando Gonzalez and Ramon Labanino will be subsequently announced, while Antonio Guerrero will be resentenced, as scheduled, on Tuesday, October 13 at 10.30 a.m. The defense lawyers continue to express their concern over the case of Gerardo Hernandez, who is serving two life sentences and was excluded from resentencing along with Rene Gonzalez.

In this regard, Thomas Goldstein, an expert in Supreme Court litigations, said during a recent visit to Havana that the defense team's efforts will prove the complete absurdity of the conspiracy to commit murder charge brought against Gerardo Hernandez.

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