Immunity law protects Castro
Spanish prosecutor says human-rights trial not possible
MADRID -- (EFE) -- A Spanish state prosecutor argues that Cuban President
Fidel Castro cannot be put on trial in Spain for human rights crimes because a
head of state is ``entitled to the privilege of immunity,'' officials said Friday.
High Court Prosecutor Javier Balaguer also said that insufficient evidence
back charges of genocide and terrorism in the complaint filed by the Foundation
for Human Rights in Cuba, an offshoot of the Cuban American National
The complaint also names Armed Forces Minister Raul Castro, Fidel's brother,
Tourism Minister Osmany Cienfuegos and Cuba's ambassador to the United
Nations in Geneva, Carlos Amat. And, it seeks international arrest warrants for
``all others who may be held legally accountable for said crimes.''
The exile group alleged that the Spanish court, which claims jurisdiction
human rights crimes in Chile and Argentina, must likewise examine ``the vast
mechanism for suppressing human rights and public liberties that began with Fidel
Castro's seizure of power on Jan. 8, 1959.''
Within this ``system of institutionalized repression'', the group claims
infrastructure of penal institutions was set up where the use of torture was
commonplace'' and Cuban police resorted to ``systematized psychological
Court officials who have seen the report said Balaguer maintains the same
his office asserted in urging the High Court to reverse course when one of its
justices, Baltasar Garzon, indicted former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet for
genocide, murder and terrorism. The court rejected Balaguer's recommendation
and ruled that the indictment against Pinochet could proceed.
Balaguer argues that the crimes attributed to Castro ``took place after
had assumed the mantle of head of the Cuban State and continues to do so at the
present time, and thereby is entitled to the privilege of immunity.''
He adds that none of the incidents cited meet the legal definition of genocide,
they do not constitute a ``systematic pattern of extermination of a group'' and
observes that ``not all dictatorships necessarily lead to acts of genocide.''
In that sense, the 41 people who were killed on July 13, 1994, when Cuban
guard vessels rammed and sunk the tugboat on which they were attempting to flee
the island, cannot be considered victims of genocide since it was a ``specific and
isolated occurrence,'' and not the result of a policy.
The prosecutor's opinion is taken into consideration but is not binding
justice hearing the case, Ismael Moreno, who has yet to decide if he will file
charges under Spanish law.