Court reinstates Miami Five convictions

Campaign News | Wednesday, 2 November 2005

Appeals court overutrns August ruling - case could be in limbo for months

ATLANTA, 2 Nov: An appellate court has reinstated the convictions of the Miami Five, five Cubans jailed in 1998 on alleged conspiracy charges and found guilty in a 2001 Miami federal trial.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late on Monday overturned the August appellate ruling by a three-judge panel in that court that had quashed those convictions.

That means the appeal process starts all over again. This time, a majority of the 12-member appellate court has agreed to rehear the so-called Cuban Five's appeal, which leaves the case in limbo for months.

"We are gratified by the Eleventh Circuit's decision, which will provide us with an opportunity to respectfully present our arguments to the full court," Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia Valle said in a statement issued Tuesday.

In September, Miami federal prosecutors formally challenged the three-judge panel's stunning appellate decision that overturned the convictions of five accused Cuban spies.

The panel found that pretrial publicity - from the community's anti-Castro views to the heavy media coverage to the hangover from the Elián González custody battle - made it impossible for the defendants to receive a fair jury trial in Miami. Its decision meant the retrial would have to be conducted in a city outside Miami.

In his petition, Acting U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta asked all 12 members of the appellate court to review the three-judge panel's ruling. Such requests are rarely granted.

Legal experts said the panel cited so much overwhelming evidence -including a court-approved, pretrial survey showing widespread community prejudice toward the five Cuban defendants - that there is nothing factually for prosecutors to challenge.

But Acosta disagreed, saying the panel's ruling runs contrary to legal precedents in that court and the Supreme Court.

If Acosta's challenge succeeds before the entire appellate court, the five convictions would stand. If it fails, federal prosecutors could appeal to the Supreme Court.

Public Rally: Free the Miami Five!

Hear the wife of one of the heroes imprisoned for fighting terrorism

Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1

3rd December, 2005



Olga Salanueva Arango, wife of Rene Gonzalez, Miami Five prisoner

Ana Mayra Rodríguez Falero

Geoff Bottoms, CSC Miami Five Campaign

Steve Cottingham, Lawyer OH Parsons

There will also be other Meetings in Edinburgh, Manchester and elsewhere in the UK

29 November - 6 December 2005

Times and venues TBA.

Olga Salanueva, the wife of Rene Gonzalez, and his 7-year-old daughter Ivette will be visiting the UK between November 29th and 6th December 2005.

The tour, hosted by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, will include meetings at the House of Commons with MPs, and at the Scottish Parliament with MSPs.

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