14ymedio, Havana, 3 April 2020 — The government opponent José Daniel Ferrer was released this Friday after a six-month detention. The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba has been sentenced to four years and six months of house imprisonment, as confirmed by dissident Félix Navarro to 14ymedio.
Along with Ferrer, activists Fernando González Vaillant, Roilán Zárraga Ferrer and José Pupo Chaveco, members of Unpacu, were also released.
“I spoke with José Daniel just now, he is already out of prison, he was very happy and wanted to continue speaking but we cut it short because I know that there are many people who now want to speak with him,” Navarro explained to this newspaper. “He told me that he is still convicted and that he will continue his sentence but in house arrest for four years, both he and the other three activists.”
Shortly after being released, Ferrer told the Martínoticias website that on Friday morning he was transferred to the Provincial Court of Santiago de Cuba where he was notified of the sentence of four years of house arrest. In front of the authorities, the opponent stated emphatically: “I am going to continue protesting, I am going to continue fighting against tyranny until Cuba is free and democratic.”
Ferrer was arrested on October 1 and accused of assaulting another man, but, according to those close to him, it was a crime “prefabricated” by the Government. The Prosecutor’s Office initially requested a sentence of 9 years in prison and the sentence took weeks to be announced.
The trial against Ferrer took place on Wednesday, February 26, and lasted for fourteen hours. The delivery of the sentence was initially planned for March 12 but was postponed without the authorities giving any explanations.
Unpacu then denounced that in the courtroom “only some relatives were about to be present, however, more than 40 people were sitting there. Many belonged to the political police and others were completely unknown.”
The United States has spoken on numerous occasions in support of the leader of Unpacu, the last time through a report in which it regretted the human rights violations that occur on the Island. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, sent a letter addressed to his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodríguez, to ask for the dissident’s “immediate” release.
The European Union high representative for foreign policy, Josep Borrell, also demanded a fair trial for the opponent and told the press that the Union had asked to be present during the hearing but did not receive the go-ahead.
Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch along with institutions such as the Organization of American States (OAS) have also requested his release on several occasions.
The leader of Unpacu is one of the Cuban opponents best-known outside the Island, since he was part of the group of 75 convicted in 2003during the so-called Black Spring, and released between 2010 and 2011 on parole after a dialogue in which the Catholic Church and the Spanish Government mediated.
He was also one of the twelve dissidents from the Black Spring who decided to remain in Cuba after his release, while the rest moved to Spain and other countries.
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