April 13, 1999
Cuban court jails seven for sex crimes

                  HAVANA (Reuters) -- A court in eastern Cuba has sentenced five Cuban
                  men and two women to jail terms of between three and 30 years for sex
                  offenses involving schoolgirls, an official Cuban newspaper said Tuesday.

                  The Communist Party daily Granma said the seven were convicted by the
                  court in Camaguey province of repeated crimes of "corruption of minors"
                  and procuring. They were accused of forcing a group of secondary school
                  girls to perform sex acts, using promises of money, and in some cases,
                  threats of physical force.

                  Of the five men convicted, three received jail terms of 30 years, one was
                  sentenced to 27 years and another to 10. The two women were given jail
                  terms of 12 and three years respectively.

                  Cuba, worried about preserving its growing tourist industry from the threat
                  of sex tourism, recently modified its penal code to toughen penalties for sex
                  offenses involving minors.

                     Copyright 1999 Reuters.