The Miami Herald
November 14, 1998

             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 exists to
             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 over
             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 that ``an
             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 position
             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 the latter
             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, since
             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 coast
             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 on the
             justice hearing the case, Ismael Moreno, who has yet to decide if he will file
             charges under Spanish law.