Friday, June 6, 2008



On Wednesday June 4th, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced its ruling in the appeal case for the Cuban Five.

In the 99-page opinion, the three-judge panel unanimously upheld the convictions against the Five Cuban Patriots. The court also upheld the sentences given to René González (15 years) and Gerardo Hernández (two life sentences plus 15 years).

The court’s ruling on Gerardo’s sentence, however, was not unanimous: 2 to 1. On page 16 of the written opinion, Judge Phyllis Kravitch states that the government did not present sufficient evidence to convict Gerardo of conspiracy to commit murder.

The sentences of Ramón Labañino (life plus 18 years); Fernando González (19 years) and Antonio Guerrero (life plus 10 years) were returned to Judge Joan Lenard’s Florida court for re-sentencing. Lenard will need to call for a hearing to issue the new ruling — this is the same judge who imposed the excessive and unjust sentences in 2001.

The Atlanta Appeals Court’s written opinion, which employs startling political rhetoric, states that the defense’s arguments lacked merit and clearly favors the government.

The court’s ruling exposes various contradictions between the opinions of two of the justices and the author of the opinion, Judge William H. Pryor, an ultraconservative appointed to the bench with the help of Republican John McCain despite opposition from the Senate.

The defense attorneys, Weinglass, MacKenna and Horowitz, ensured they will continue the legal battle that began in December 2001 when they were unjustly sentences. There are still some legal avenues open.

Given the United States’ governments’ legal ploys to expand the sentences of our Five Brothers, we are not surprised by the judicial ruling. On the contrary, it reaffirms our need to continue fighting tirelessly to denounce this colossal injustice.

Exposed once again is the contempt of the United States government, which yesterday, in another U.S. city, defended the criminal Luis Posada Carriles. A man who, rather than fittingly declaring him a terrorist for his crimes against humanity and extraditing him to Venezuela where the government has declared Carriles a fugitive and repeatedly demanded his extradition, the U.S. government has granted him full liberty.

Gerardo is not surprised by the ruling. “This is the same system that has unjustly incarcerated Mumia for more than 20 years along with Leonard Peltier and the Puerto Rican political prisoners,” he said today. “We will endure as many years as necessary, 30, 40, whatever it takes. As long as one of you is resisting, we will also resist until there is justice.”

Gerardo has asked that we communicate his confidence to all of you, “For anyone who asks, tell them I am fine, strong and always looking forward.”

Along with all of our friends around the world we call for mobilizations beginning on the morning of June 6, in front of all headquarters of the terrorist U.S. government —in Europe, Latin America and the U.S. — which holds our Five Brothers imprisoned.

Only solidarity, constant condemnation and international mobilization will secure freedom for the Five.

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five
June 5, 2008