France to probe Castro charges
PARIS - A lawyer representing a Cuban exile in France filed a complaint
Wednesday against Fidel Castro, accusing Cuba's leader of international
drug-trafficking, judicial officials said.
The complaint was filed with Paris courts by lawyer Serge Lewisch on
behalf of Ileana de la Guardia. She is the daughter of Cuban Col. Antonio
de la Guardia, who was executed in Cuba in 1989 for allegedly smuggling
drugs into the United States, said the officials, who requested anonymity.
Lewisch also filed complaints against Castro on behalf of a French
photographer, Pierre Golendorf, who spent 2½ years in a Cuban jail, and
Cuban artist Lazaro Jordana, jailed for four years for illegally leaving the
Both men accuse Castro of ''crimes against humanity,'' including torture
murder, the officials said. No further details were immediately available.
The judicial officials said a judge would be required to open an
investigation due to the gravity of the accusations. That investigation could
eventually lead to the filing of criminal charges against Castro.
However, they said it was unlikely the charges of crimes against humanity
would stand because Castro has immunity as a head of state.
In November, a Spanish court rejected petition by a Cuban exile group for
a probe into allegations of genocide, terrorism and torture filed against
But the drug-trafficking charges could stand, they said, because French
respects the immunity of foreign leaders only in cases directly linked to the
sovereignty of the state in question. Drug trafficking would not fall into that
category, they said.
De la Guardia was executed by a firing squad alongside Maj. Gen. Arnaldo
Ochoa, Maj. Amado Padron and Capt. Jorge Martinez. All confessed guilt
but asked for mercy based on their records and contrition.
The drug scandal stunned Castro's communist government, which for years
had denied U.S. accusations that Cuba was being used to smuggle cocaine
and marijuana to the United States.
At the time of the trial, Castro said the scandal had done immense internal
damage and eroded Cuba's international image.
Lewisch charged that the United States knew in the late 1980s that Cuba
had become a major conduit for drugs, and that the Caribbean island was
using the revenue to fight the U.S. trade embargo and fund its forces in
He said the four officials were scapegoats, executed to deflect accusations
of drug-trafficking away from Castro.
Lewisch, encouraged by Spain's efforts to bring former Chilean dictator
Augusto Pinochet to trial for human rights abuses, said he hoped France
would eventually issue an arrest warrant for Castro.
''French jurisdiction has the competence to investigate these complaints
deliver an arrest warrant for Fidel Castro,'' Lewisch told The Associated
Judicial sources said prosecutors would need to prove that the drugs were
destined for Europe, and France in particular, as Lewisch claims.
By The Associated Press