Havana, Jan 25 (EFE).- Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said Tuesday that prosecutors are acting within the bounds of the law in prosecuting defendants charged in connection with last July’s anti-government protests.
Diaz-Canel commented on Twitter after the Attorney General’s Office published an extensive report on the trials and said 790 people have been formally charged, including 55 minors.
The top prosecutor’s office “reiterates that it will act in conformity with its constitutional duty, within the bounds of the law, in keeping with due process, safeguarding the interests of the state and respect for citizens’ rights,” the head of state said.
The release of the report comes after dissidents, non-governmental organizations and some foreign governments had criticized the trials in recent weeks.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Twitter that the United States “knows very well that the current judicial proceedings in Cuba are being conducted in full adherence to the law and in conformity with accepted international standards.”
He added that Washington “lies” to “tarnish Cuba’s exemplary work in protecting its children and justify criminal coercive measures,” a reference to the US’s harsh sanctions on the Communist-ruled island.
Rodriguez also cited a report by the Washington DC-based non-profit organization Children’s Defense Fund indicating that nearly 700,000 minors were arrested and 3,371 children and teenagers were killed with guns in the US in 2019.
He also recalled the US government’s policy of separating migrant families at the border.
In a statement, the AG’s office said 790 people have been charged over acts of vandalism that targeted authorities, ordinary people and property, as well as for serious disruptions to public order. A total of 710 people are to face trial.
Fifty-five of the accused are between 16 and 18 (28 of whom have been held in pre-trial detention), although under the island’s criminal code sentences handed down to people in that age range may be reduced by up to half.
The AG’s office also has investigated 27 minors under the age of 16, who in Cuba are not subject to criminal law, the statement read.
Sixty other defendants – 41 of whom are being held in preventive detention – are between 19 and 29. Under Cuba’s criminal code, sentences handed down to individuals in that age range may be reduced by up to a third.
The AG’s office said some defendants have been charged with sedition due to the “level of violence they showed” with the “deliberate purpose of subverting the constitutional order.”
“The sentences being sought by the AG’s office are in keeping with the seriousness of the acts, the level of participation and the damage caused to society,” the statement read.
A total of 84 trials involving 172 defendants have been held to date and 44 sentences have been handed down, according to the top prosecutor’s office.
The July 11, 2021, anti-government protests – massive, spontaneous demonstrations triggered in part by the country’s severe economic crisis – were the largest in decades on the Caribbean island. EFE