Monday, January 30

Lawyers for 9/11 protesters dare to question evidence and witnesses during trial in Cuba

At least two lawyers for the 15 July 11 protesters (11-J) of 2021 in Cuba who were tried on November 23 and 24 in Havana, questioned the judicial process and charged against the evidence and witnesses presented by the Prosecutor’s Office, a witness reported to the EFE agency.

On 11-J the largest anti-government protests occurred on the island, thousands were arrested; Prisoners Defenders (PD) currently registers 1,027 political prisoners, the majority after 11-J.

More than a year after the event, legal proceedings continue. The 15 defendants on this occasion are between 17 and 51 years old, and face charges for the alleged crimes of “attack”, “public disorder”, “contempt” and “incitement to commit a crime”. The fiscal requests oscillate between 7 and 13 years of deprivation of liberty.

In Cuba, the independent practice of law is not allowed, but lawyers must belong to Collective Law Firms, which respond to the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC). Some try to establish defenses with the few resources that a law allows them -which also responds to communist ideology- but taking into account not to exceed the questions. For this reason, the same source said, although “surprised” by his action, fearing for the safety of the lawyers.

According to the source, one of them said: “It is time for the country to start healing its wounds, it is time for the country to sit down to talk, it is time for the country to create public spaces for all those people who do not think alike can demonstrate safely and legally without being charged with a crime.

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Similarly, another lawyer cited an iconic phrase from Cuba’s national hero, José Martí, which refers to a Cuba “with everyone and for the good of all.”

aggravation of crimes

The same source told EFE that the Prosecutor’s Office had withdrawn the crimes from all those accused but, instead, charged them with “sedition”, for which, according to the Penal Code, they could be sentenced to the maximum penalty (death ) for allegedly having the intention of destabilizing the order of the State, which “annoyed the lawyers”.

“As they argued, this is not sustained in the case of the 15 defendants because they participated in a demonstration that took place far (in the Havana municipality of 10 de Octubre) from one of the headquarters of the powers, as it did happen in the protests outside the Capitol,” the source explained.

“It is time for the country to start healing its wounds, it is time for the country to sit down and talk,” said one of the lawyers during the process.


According to the prosecutor’s first request, the defendants carried out actions “of unlimited violence” and are accused of throwing “stones, bottles, logs and other items” at the police and shouting slogans against the Cuban government and the President, Miguel Diaz-Canel.

The working group against arbitrary detentions in Cuba “Justicia 11-J” has documented that at least 166 people in Cuba have been prosecuted for the crime against State Security of sedition, which represents 25% of the total number of courts.


Among those accused is Jonathan Torres Farratwho was 17 years old at the time of the arrest (the minimum criminal age in Cuba is 16) and whose prosecutor’s request is for 8 years of deprivation of liberty, which could be subsidized by “correctional work without internment.”

Jonathan is one of the 59 minors detained by the 11-J protests documented by Justice 11-J. During his imprisonment, he was subjected to various forms of torture, as denounced by the PD: he was beaten, confined to a punishment cell, forced to shout slogans in favor of the regime, was deprived of medical care and communication with his family and defense; Both he and his mother, Bárbara Farrat Guillén, have been subjected to psychological abuse.

At the end of May of this year, he was released on bail, after months of denouncing the denial of medical attention for his hypertension and torture. In July 2022 he was hospitalized due to a contracted hepatitis in the Jóvenes de Occidente prison.

His mother was even called to testify against him even when the law excuses her from this obligation.

Lack of guarantees

Since August 2021, some 672 people, 46 of them in summary trials. Justicia 11J also documents that only 5 people have been acquitted and the opposition leader José Daniel Ferrer was imprisoned due to the revocation of a previous sanction. Another 285 people remain awaiting trial, with prosecutor requests for up to 15 years in prison. Of these, 135 are waiting in prison. About 233 people still do not receive the conclusions provisional orders from the Prosecutor’s Office to open the oral trial phase.

Since the opening of the processes, both family members and NGOs have denounced the threats from the political police defendants and family members, excessive sentences as an exemplary effect, as well as the fabrication of evidence and false witnesses in trials in which there are no guarantees, since the entire process is guided by Cuban State Security.

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