An NGO Requests Acquittal for Those Convicted by Cuban Judge Melody González, Who is Now Requesting Asylum in The United States

Amnesty International (AI) designates Professor Pedro Albert Sánchez of Prisoners Defenders (PD) as a prisoner of conscience and urges the German Government to intercede for its citizen detained in Cuba

Former Cuban judge Melody González Pedraza / OCDH

14ymedio bigger14ymedio/EFE, Madrid, 8 July 2024 —On Monday, the Cuban Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH) requested the acquittal of those convicted by Judge Melody González Pedraza, who is currently in a political asylum process in the United States. In a statement made public the same day OCDH — an NGO headquartered in Spain — reported on an interview with González Pedraza by Diario de Cuba, in which the judge herself claimed to have received instructions from the president of the Provincial Court of Villa Clara and the president of the Security Chamber to convict Andy Gabriel González Fuentes, Eddy Daniel Rodríguez Pérez, Luis Ernesto Medina Pedraza and Adain Barreiro Pérez.

All of them were sentenced by the Popular Municipal Court of Encrucijada, Villa Clara, which González Pedraza presided over, for the crime of attack. The first three were sentenced to four years in prison and the fourth to three years.

The Observatory believes that the judge’s statements give “new grounds for acquittal and revocation of the sentence”

“They gave me precise indications; I said that the defense lawyers had presented important evidence, especially from witnesses. But the order I received was that the evidence of the Prosecutor’s Office was sufficient and had more value. We had to maintain pre-trial detention and sanction them,” said the former official in her interview with the Madrid-based Cuban newspaper.

The Observatory believes that the Judge González Pedraza’s statements give “new reasons for acquittal and revocation of the sentence,” since “it is evident that it was not legal and just to pronounce a criminal sentence.”

The NGO’s report, with six recommendations, is addressed to the appellant appointed lawyers of the ruling of the Municipal Court of Crossroads, issued last January, and to the members of the Governing Council of the Provincial Court in Villa Clara, among other institutions.

“There was a violation of guarantees and fundamental rights to the detriment of those convicted, as well as the absence of a crime and serious judicial misconduct without the least minimum of evidence. We believe that there are sufficient elements for imminent release measures to be adopted in favor of the appellants, as a definitive and just measure,” says the OCDH.

Amnesty International urged the Government of the Island to release Pedro Albert Sánchez “immediately and unconditionally”

In addition, Amnesty International (AI) — an NGO based in London — designated Cuban professor and activist Pedro Albert Sánchez as a prisoner of conscience on Monday. It urged the Cuban Government to release him “immediately and unconditionally,” along with all the “unjustly imprisoned people” in the country.

The NGO stated that in December a judge revoked the sanction of “limitation of freedom” – the fulfillment of the sentence out of prison – that weighed against the activist for having participated in the massive anti-government protests of 11 July 2021 (’11J’).

The 68-year-old professor, who also suffers from cancer, had been sentenced to five years on charges of “contempt” and “public disorder.” Last November he was arrested when he tried to go to the headquarters of the European Union in Havana to deliver a letter to the High Special Representative of the European Union for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, who was in Cuba on a working visit.

The Government’s “repressive tactics” have also increased with practices such as “criminalization, arbitrary arrests and harassment”

“Since this imprisonment, Pedro Albert has been confined for more than 50 days in punishment cells and has been denied adequate medical care, including access to medicines,” AI reproached.

In addition to Sánchez, the AI recognizes as prisoners of conscience in Cuba the opponent José Daniel Ferrer, the artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo Osorbo, and the Yoruban officiants Loreto Hernández García and Donaida Pérez Paseiro.

AI also stressed that on the Island, which is on the eve of the third anniversary of 11J, the protests “have not only continued, but have increased.”

However, AI continued, the Government’s “repressive tactics” have also increased with practices such as “criminalization, arbitrary arrests and harassment of activists, journalists and human rights defenders, along with general and selective internet cuts.”

AI added that in the last three years, organizations such as Justicia 11J, Prisoners Defenders (PD) and the OCDH have documented “that between 963 and 1,113 people are detained for political reasons” and that at least “671 remain in prison for their participation in the protests of 11 July 2021.”

AI asked the Cuban Executive to repeal the articles of the Criminal Code, which went into effect in December 2022, which “criminalize dissent and violate the right to freedom of expression.”

“It is unacceptable that the Cuban authorities continue to use repressive tactics to silence those who dare to raise their voices in defense of their human rights. This constant repression to try to stifle any form of dissidence must be stopped once and for all,” said Ana Piquer, AI Director for the Americas, cited in the document made public on Monday.

“It is very important that the German Government first becomes aware of what is happening”

Also this Monday, and from Berlin, Prisoners Defenders urged the Government of Germany to become aware of the situation of Luis Frómeta Compte, with dual Cuban and German nationality, sentenced to 15 years in prison for the crime of sedition, for filming the demonstrations of 11J with his cell phone.

“It is very important that the German Government first becomes aware of what is happening” and “that it takes responsibility for its duty with respect to German citizens,” the president of the Spanish NGO, Javier Larrondo, told EFE.

The German Government can argue that as Frómeta has dual nationality and has committed crimes in Cuba, Germany cannot do much, he said after a press conference in Berlin focused on the recent unprecedented condemnation of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) for the arbitrary arrests of 11J.

“But when the United Nations certifies with an opinion and condemns Cuba to release him, to compensate him and to remedy all the problems it has caused to Mr. Frómeta, the German Government already has a debt to Mr. Frómeta” that it has to fulfill as with every German citizen.

He stressed that Frómeta, 61, who has been living in Germany since 1985 and who was arrested on 17 July 2021, is not convicted in that country in a legal way, “but illegally, as if he were kidnapped by a mafia or a mafia clan.”

“Luis Frómeta has been kidnapped; Luis Frómeta is being tortured and killed by criminals, according to the United Nations,” he said when referring to the WGAD ruling.

“Luis Frómeta has been kidnapped; Luis Frómeta is being tortured and killed by criminals, according to the United Nations

In addition, while the Spanish Government is a priority for Cuban politics, Germany is very relevant at the political level and has an important capacity for influence, just as do Italy and France.

“There are four countries that have a lot to say about Latin American politics and in particular Cuba’s policy,” he said in a clear appeal to the respective governments.

PD emphasizes that, in its ruling, the UN strongly condemns the arrests of 11J in Cuba and demands compensation and the release of the 17 accused of “sedition” in a single sentencing, something unprecedented for Cuba.

Among the seven most common patterns in the 520 criminal cases studied between 2022 and 2023, the NGO cites deprivation of liberty without judicial protection; lack of independent lawyers; dependence on government prosecutors and judges; experts and witnesses of the State as the only sources of accusation; criminalization of the exercise of fundamental rights; insufficient crimes; military courts used against civilians; and summary proceedings.

Larrondo believes that this opinion can be of great help “because the dictators are aware of the political cost of these opinions against them and that political cost restricts the freedom of repression that they would like to exercise.”

In addition, he added, in case of fruitful negotiations for the release of political prisoners, these people who according to the opinion must be released and compensated would be on the list.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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