The Trial of the ‘Young Man With the Placard’ Concludes Under a Strong Police Operation in Havana

Robles was arrested on December 4, 2020 for protesting on Boulevard San Rafael, in Havana. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 December 2021 — The trial of Luis Robles Elizastigui, the “young man with the placard,” lasted almost two hours this Thursday, taking place in the Municipal Court of Marianao, in Havana, under a strong security operation.

“The place is full of police, and not only will Luis’ trial be held, there will also be others,” the activist’s brother, Landy Fernández Elizastigui, told 14ymedio just before ten in the morning, minutes after Robles’ mother, Yindra Elizastigui Jardines, was called to enter the court.

In principle, a relative would be able to attend, no matter who it was, but Fernández was not allowed to enter.

At the conclusion of the hearing, still without a sentence, Robles’ mother came out “very affected” and did not want to give a statement, but according to Fernández, she felt satisfied “with the work of the defense attorney.”

The young man has served a year in jail as of December 4, accused of “resistance” and “enemy propaganda” for walking along the Boulevard de San Rafael in Centro Habana with a placard calling for an end to the repression and the freedom of rapper Denis Solís, a member of the San Isidro Movement who has gone into exile since the initial event.

Luis’s brother narrates that the prosecution, which is requesting a joint sanction of six years of deprivation of liberty, anticipated that he was not going to present witnesses and that to convict him they would only rely on the audiovisual materials available from Luis’s protest. That is, the video broadcast on social networks on December 4 of last year, which includes the moment of his solo demonstration.

In those same images, it can also be seen that Robles did not offer resistance to his arrest at any time and that many of those present denounced the police abuse and supported the young man.

The trial, initially scheduled for July 16 last in the Municipal People’s Court of Diez de Octubre and suspended after the 11 July (11J) demonstrations, had a change in venue announced 24 hours in advance: it would no longer be in the Provincial Court of Havana, next to the Capitol, but in Marianao.

Cuban priest Kenny Fernández Delgado, who on November 15 managed to demonstrate, walking with a flower in his hand through Madruga, the city where he officiates in Mayabeque, accompanied the Robles family outside the court. In his social networks he sent “greetings and blessings for all,” especially “for Luis Robles and his family.”

During the time he has been incarcerated, in the maximum security prison of the Combinado del Este in the capital, Robles has denounced torture and ill-treatment. Four times they have denied him the modification of the pre-trial incarceration measure, which has prevented him from being free while  waiting for a final conviction.

The United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers that both Robles’ arrest and imprisonment qualify as arbitrary detention.


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