Cuban exiles to appeal rejection of Pinochet-like suit
MADRID, Spain (AP) -- A Spanish court on Thursday rejected a Cuban
exile group's petition for an investigation into allegations of genocide,
terrorism and torture filed against Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
The Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba said it would appeal within the
statutory three days allowed.
National Court Judge Ismael Moreno said the suit, filed November 5,
referred to common crimes committed outside Spain that were not within
Spanish jurisdiction -- and did not cover genocide, terrorism and torture,
crimes that Spanish courts are enabled to consider.
The Cuban petition was inspired by National Court probes into human rights
abuses in Chile and Argentina. Those investigations developed into an
extradition request against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet,
accused of the same three charges.
"The case against Castro was inspired by the Pinochet case but has since
become independent," said the group's lawyer, Javier Barrilero. "The road
does not stop here."
On October 30, the National Court gave Judge Baltasar Garzon a green
light to seek Pinochet's trial in Spain on the basis of crimes committed during
his 1973-1990 regime that it considered could be reasonably described as
genocide, terrorism and torture. Under Spanish law, these crimes are not
subject to national boundaries.
Moreno's ruling said the petition failed to present credible evidence that
Castro, and several close associates also named in the suit, had committed
genocide by attempting to eliminate a group of people.
The judge also said that none of those named could be accused of terrorism
because they were all high government officials seeking to bolster rather than
subvert the state order, the Spanish news agency Europa Press reported.
Further, Moreno's ruling said that the alleged cases of torture were better
described as "degrading treatment," the agency reported.
18,000 people named
The Foundation for Human Rights is part of the Cuban-American National
Foundation, a Miami-based group vehemently opposed to Castro.
Its Spanish suit was backed with papers detailing the cases of about 120
people who allegedly suffered torture or other abuses by Castro's
government, or were executed or died while in Cuban jails or in police
Another 18,000 people were also named, including some from North
America and Spain, who were allegedly killed or disappeared in Cuba since
1959, when Castro took power.
The suit also accused Castro's brother Raul, Tourism Minister and former
army Cmdr. Osmani Cienfuegos and Carlos Amat, Cuba's ambassador in
Geneva and also a former member of the military.
Barrilero said his clients would take their case all the way through the
Spanish judicial system and were studying the possibility of involving
'Legally inappropriate' comments
Immediately after the suit was filed, Spanish Foreign Minister Abel Matutes
said it could not prosper because Castro holds diplomatic immunity as a
head of state.
Barrilero said these comments were "understandable" because Matutes was
about to visit Cuba on an official tour, but were "legally inappropriate" given
the Spanish government's refusal to comment on the Pinochet case.
Garzon had Pinochet arrested on October 16 in London, where he was
receiving medical treatment, and the Spanish government formally requested
his extradition earlier this month.
Pinochet's extradition to Spain depends on a decision due Wednesday from
Britain's House of Lords on whether the aging former dictator is entitled to
immunity as a former head of state.
Copyright 1998 The Associated Press.