Reports from Cuba: Appeals not reducing sentences of those condemned for July 11 protests

14yMedio reports from Havana via Translating Cuba:

Appeals Do Not Reduce Sentences of Those Condemned for the July 11th (11J) Protests in Cuba

Walfrido Rodríguez Piloto received 10 years in prison. 

The record kept by the independent associations Cubalex and Justicia 11J shows that the appeals of those convicted for the July 11th (11J) protests of last year are barely serving to modify the sentences. According to the list, to date 40 people have received a response to the review of their sentence in the first instance, of which only one achieved notable success, going from one year in prison to being acquitted.

Omar Córdovez Hernández was sentenced by the Popular Municipal Court of Jovellanos at the beginning of January to 12 months of deprivation of liberty for instigation to commit a crime; the appeal was favorable for him, and he was not only acquitted, but also his confiscated money and belongings were returned. But his case is a drop in an ocean where the judges are reluctant to rectify even a comma approved by their colleagues at the municipal level. Another relatively significant case is that of Jesús David Rodríguez Prevost, who, after appealing the sentence of 3 years and 8 months, had his sentence reduced to 2 years and two months.

Most of the remaining cases, at least 32, have kept the sentence intact or, in some isolated cases, have modified the form of imprisonment or reduced the time of internment by one month.

Despite the fact that the data confirms that the sentences are basically dictated by the system and that the result of appealing is almost null, the organizations that defend the rights of the prisoners have invited the families at all times to resist and not give up a right that could be useful to those close to their family members, however difficult it may be.

In this context, today begins the appeal trial of some of those convicted in La Güinera by the Municipal People’s Court of Diez de Octubre, in Havana. It is the same instance that sentenced 128 people to almost 2,000 years in prison in total, all of them protesters in that neighborhood and the Toyo corner.

Emiyoslán, Mackyani and Yosney Román are three brothers convicted in that process whose appeal begins this Friday. Their father, Emilio Román, told Martí Noticias that his children are in good health and looking forward to this day. “Emiyoslán turned 18 while already in prison and is currently in the Jovenes de Occidente Prison. He feels himself to be in good health despite the difficulties in the prisons, but he constantly asks me when when the appeal would finally be made to find out what they will determine in his case, if they sentence him to study and release him,” he said.

Yosney, the eldest, is 26 and is in the Combinado del Este maximum security prison, while his sister, 24, is in the El Guatao women’s prison, in La Lisa.

“They are young, but they are desperate, they are crazy to get out of those penitentiary centers and they hope that their sanctions will be reduced in the appeal trial, because they were given sentences of too many years. In addition to sedition, they also imposed charges for attack and public disorder,” added Romero, who has said that another neighbor with three children in the same situation as his is also in the group of those who appealed and added that the families are prohibited from entering the court and must wait outside.

Martí Noticias also reported on Thursday the sentence for four demonstrators who participated in the 11J protests in the Havana neighborhood of El Palenque, in La Lisa, and who were sentenced to between 11 and 7 years in prison.

Among those affected is Walfrido Rodríguez Piloto, who told the media that the Prosecutor had been more benevolent on this occasion than the court had been, something rare and it had fallen like a bucket of water over him when he was sentences to 10 years in prison rather than the 9 years the prosecutor asked for.

Rodríguez Piloto is in the Valle Grande prison and has announced that he is willing to go on a hunger strike for justice. José Eduardo Jardines Rodríguez, sentenced to 7 years in the same process, joins his protest.

The others affected are Richard Echavarría López, sentenced to 11 years, and Frodelián Hernández Bautista and Adonis Garvizo Otero, both with 9 years in prison. All were accused of instigation to commit a crime, public disorder, contempt and attack.

Rodríguez Piloto was also convicted of carrying and illegal possession of weapons and explosives. “The repressive media were the ones that started the blows against the demonstrators and to that action, the people reacted. So they [the authorities] want to consider our reaction as a terrorist act when it was the repressors who started the violence. They threw stones and they broke the windows of the hard currency store to blame it on us. They provoked the people,” said the activist.

This week, Raucel Ocaña Parada, former prosecutor of Palma Soriano, in Santiago de Cuba and now exiled in Europe, said in an interview that the sentences are decided by the party and are imposed on the courts, which are not independent. Ocaña is in the process of applying for asylum in Switzerland.

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