Cuban court sentences 12 people to prison for role in protests
Havana, Jul 21 (EFE).- Twelve people arrested during anti-government protests across Cuba on July 11 were sentenced Wednesday to up to a year in prison in a proceeding where only two of the defendants had lawyers.
The brother of 25-year-old filmmaker Anyelo Troya, who contributed to the video for “Patria y vida” (Homeland and Life), a hip-hop song that has become an unofficial anthem for dissidents, told Efe that his sibling was arrested trying to film the demonstrations and held incommunicado until Monday.
“They informed us of the case number and the charge of public disorder,” Yuri Troya said of the message the family received from authorities. “They said that they would call us and that we had the right to an attorney.”
On Tuesday, Yuri said, the family went to the prison with a lawyer only to be told that the trial was already underway at a courthouse in another part of Havana.
“We arrived running with the attorney and the trial had already concluded. They tried him without a lawyer. There were 12 boys in the same summary trial and only two had attorneys because their parents learned (about the trial) in time,” Yuri Troya said.
The verdicts came down on Wednesday. Anyelo Troya and nine others were each sentenced to a year in prison, while the two defendants represented by counsel received sentences of 10 months behind bars.
Troya’s family plan to file an appeal, but lawyers at the website El Toque Juridico said that Cuban law does not consider the lack of defense counsel as valid grounds for appeal when it comes to what are known here as summary trials.
Activists estimate that authorities arrested hundreds of people for their part in the July 11 protests.
Some have been released and others have been sentenced to house arrest, but most are still waiting to find out if they will be charged.
President Miguel Diaz-Canel vowed last week that all defendants would enjoy “due-process guarantees.”
Cuba’s largest protests since the 1959 Revolution came amid a worsening economic situation aggravated by a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Though Cuba has developed coronavirus vaccines, it is struggling with shortages of medical supplies and other basic products and people are living with extended power cuts.
The Communist government blames the protests on the United States, citing the six-decade-old embargo as the main cause of Cuba’s economic woes and accusing US agencies of orchestrating disturbances on the island. EFE aaf/dr