14ymedio, Havana, December 20, 2018 — Activist Hugo Damián Prieto Blanco, leader of Frente de Acción Cívica Orlando Zapata (Orlando Zapata Civic Action Front), was sentenced Tuesday to a year imprisonment for the crime of “pre-criminal dangerousness” to society, as confirmed to 14ymedio by his wife, Lázara Bárbara Sendiña.
Prieto was arrested this last November 29 after taking part in a protest in the vicinity of Havana’s Capitol; he was subsequently released and later, on December 3, the police searched his home and arrested him again.
Prieto was held in cells at various police stations until he appeared before the Court in Marianao where “he was subject to a very summary trial,” complained Sendiña.
His wife is of the opinion that the charged crime “is a legal gimmick by the Government to put their opponents in jail without showing that they have been convicted of a political crime.” Sendiña maintains that Prieto was tried while “violating all due process” and that he will not have the right to appeal.
By 8:01 a.m., just when the doors of the Courthouse were being opened, Hugo Damián had already been tried and was being led to the Valle Grande prison, where he is supposed to serve out his sentence,” as reported by his wife.
Throughout this time, the activist has not been able to access the medication he needs to treat a chronic cardiomyopathy. In addition, Prieto suffers from pancreatitis. “He cannot eat any type of cold cuts or greasy foods, but he has to eat whatever he is given in prison,” his wife complained.
Members of the organization led by the dissident launched a campaign to demand his release, and this Thursday the police called Lázaro Mendoza García, one of the executives of Frente de Acción Cívica Orlando Zapata, in order to question him.
A group of eight activists went with Mendoza to the police station located in La Lisa. One of those who arrived at the scene, José Antonio Pompa López, told this daily that the police threatened him with prosecuting all of them in court if they persisted in holding protests to demand Prieto’s release.
Amnesty International and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have denounced that Cuban law punishes citizens, with sentences of one to four years’ imprisonment, for an alleged crime they have not yet committed, pursuant to Sections 73 to 84 of the Criminal Code.
According to independent attorney Laritza Diversent, in the case of individuals sentenced under that legal concept, “the commission of such crime is not proven, [since] the authorities, shielded by subjective criteria and ideological parameters, consider that the conduct of such individuals must be reformed.”
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