NATIONAL COMMITTEE TO FREE THE CUBAN FIVE
Comité Nacional por la Libertad de los Cinco Cubanos

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'Cuban Five' file appeal with Supreme Court

by Bill Mears
Jan. 30, 2009
Reprinted from CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Five Cubans convicted in 2001 of spying for the Castro regime have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a new trial in a politically charged case that has attracted international attention.

A man takes a picture in September of a sculpture in honor of the Cuban Five in Havana, Cuba.

Lawyers for the men, known as the "Cuban Five," filed a petition Friday, saying their trial in Miami was unfairly prejudiced by the larger community.

"The pervasive and violent anti-Castro struggle of the Miami community would not only infect the jury with hostility but would cause jurors to fear for their (and their families') safety, livelihoods, and community standing if they acquitted," it said.

The petition asks the justices to throw out the verdicts and order a new trial for the five. Cuban leader Raul Castro has offered to exchange about 200 prisoners, believed by the United States to be political prisoners, for the five men.

There was no initial reaction to the court filing from the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of Florida. The government is expected to oppose the request for the high court to take up the matter.

A decision from the justices is expected this spring. If the case were added to the docket, oral arguments would be held in the fall.

In 2001, a Miami jury convicted Ruben Campa, also known as Fernando Gonzalez; Rene Gonzalez; Gerardo Hernandez; Luis Medina (also known as Ramon Labanino) and Antonio Guerrero, members of what was called the Wasp Network, on charges they had spied on prominent Cuban-American exile leaders and U.S. military bases. They were arrested in September 1998.

Group leader Gerardo Hernandez also was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for engineering the shoot-down in 1996 of two planes flown by the group Brothers to the Rescue.

Cuban fighter jets downed the unarmed Cessnas as they flew toward the island, where they had previously dropped anti-government leaflets. Four men died.

During the trial, the defendants claimed they had spied as a way to defend Cuba from hard-line anti-Castro groups in Miami they feared would attack the island. All five are serving time in federal prisons.

The case has been widely followed in Cuba, where the men were regarded as heroes and whose communist leader, Fidel Castro, regularly advocated their release.

A federal appeals court had originally thrown out the convictions, but later reinstated them.

Attorney Thomas Goldstein, representing the five, said lower courts unfairly refused to move the trial from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, 30 miles to the north. "The defendants were very concerned about the prevalent anti-Castro hostility, and the tremendous press coverage," he said, "The [federal] appeals court has made it virtually impossible to get a change of venue, even in this kind of case."

The appeal also claimed prosecutors unfairly excused seven potential African-Americans from the pool of potential jurors. The final jury included three black members but no Cuban-Americans.

The Cuban Five trial was the only judicial proceeding in U.S. history condemned by the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Eight Nobel Prize winners have also petitioned the U.S. attorney general, calling for freedom for the five.

The case is Campa et al. v. U.S.

“Los Cinco Cubanos” presentan apelación ante el Tribunal Supremo

por Bill Mears
30 de enero de 2009
Reimprimado de CNN
Traducción por Gualdo Hidalgo

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Los Cinco Cubanos convictos en 2001 de espiar para el régimen de Castro han solicitado al Tribunal Supremo de EEUU que les conceda un nuevo juicio en un caso cargado políticamente que ha atraído la atención internacional.

Los abogados de los hombres, conocidos como ” los Cinco Cubanos" , radicaron una petición el viernes, argumentando que el juicio en Miami fue injustamente prejuiciado por una extensa comunidad.

“La omnipresente y violenta lucha anti-Castro de la comunidad de Miami no solo contagiaría al jurado con hostilidad sino que provocaría el temor de los miembros del jurado por su seguridad (y la de sus familias), subsistencia y posición en la comunidad si ellos declaraban inocentes a los encausados, según se comenta.

La petición solicita de los jueces que rechacen los veredictos y ordenen un nuevo proceso para los cinco. El líder cubano Raúl Castro ha ofrecido el canje de cerca de 200 prisioneros, considerados por los Estados Unidos como prisioneros políticos, por los cinco hombres.

No hubo reacción inicial por parte de la oficina del fiscal de EEUU del Distrito del Sur de la Florida a la radicación de la apelación en la corte. Se espera que el gobierno se oponga a la solicitud de que la corte suprema trate el asunto.

Se espera una decisión de los jueces esta primavera. Si el caso fuera adjuntado al expediente, los argumentos orales tendrían lugar en el otoño.

En el 2001, un jurado de Miami sentenció a Rubén Campa, también conocido como Fernando Gonzalez; René Gonzalez; Gerardo Hernández; Luis Medina (también conocido como Ramón Labañino) y a Antonio Guerrero, miembros de la que fue llamada la Red Avispa, bajo las imputaciones de que habían espiado a lideres prominentes del exilio cubano-americano y bases militares de EEUU. Fueron arrestados en septiembre del 1998.

El líder del grupo, Gerardo Hernández, también fue convicto de conspiración para asesinar por urdir el derribo en 1996 de dos avionetas del grupo Hermanos al Rescate.

Aviones de combate cubanos derribaron el Cessnas desarmado mientras volaba hacia la isla, donde ellos habían lanzado previamente panfletos antigubernamentales. Cuatro hombres murieron.

Durante el juicio, los acusados argumentaron que habían espiado como una manera de defender a Cuba de los grupos anti-Castristas de línea dura en Miami que se temía atacarían a la isla. Los cinco están cumpliendo condenas en cárceles federales.

El caso ha sido ampliamente seguido en Cuba, donde los hombres fueron considerados como héroes y cuyo líder comunista, Fidel Castro, regularmente aboga por su liberación.

Una corte federal de apelaciones había rechazado las condenas, pero luego las ha restablecido.

El abogado Thomas Goldstein, representante de los cinco, expresó que cortes de primera instancia rehusaron injustamente trasladar el juicio de Miami a Fort Lauderdale, 30 millas al norte. "Los acusados estaban muy preocupados por la prevaleciente hostilidad anti-Castro, y la tremenda cobertura de prensa”, dijo. "La corte (federal) de apelaciones ha hecho virtualmente imposible el conseguir un cambio de lugar, incluso en este caso."

La apelación también sostiene que los fiscales injustamente excluyeron siete potenciales afro-americanos del grupo potencial del jurado. El jurado final incluyó tres miembros negros pero ningún cubano-americano.

El juicio de los Cinco Cubanos fue el único proceso judicial en la historia de EEUU condenado por la Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la Naciones Unidas. Ocho ganadores del los Premios Nobel también han firmado la petición al fiscal general de EEUU, reclamando la libertad de los cinco.

El caso se denomina Campa et al. v. U.S.


Cuban Five Attorneys Filed Appeal in US Supreme Court

Jan. 30, 2009
Reprinted from ACN

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 30 (acn) The defense attorneys of the five Cuban anti- terrorist fighters held in US jails today filed a writ in the US Supreme Court demanding the judicial revision of the case and asking the justices to throw out the verdicts and order a new trial for the case.

In a press conference today, principal appellate counsel Thomas Goldstein said that the case of Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labañin, known as the Cuban Five, has gotten "tremendous international attention" from human rights groups that criticize the fairness of the trial to which they were submitted because of local hostility in the US city of Miami against the Cuban government, according to the website of the National Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five (www.freethefive.org).

A decision from the justices is expected this spring. If the case is added to the docket, oral arguments would be held in the fall, reads the article on the websiste, which also offers articles by US media on the press conference and the legal petition.

The Cuban Five were given extremely long and unfair sentences, ranging from 15 years to life terms. The Five had collected information on Florida-based ultra-right groups that have undertaken terrorist actions against the Cuban people.

The Cuban people, government leaders, diplomats, parliamentarians and solidarity organizations around the world have repeatedly demanded the immediate release of the five Cuban heroes, who have been imprisoned in high security prisons for over ten years now.


Appeal for "Cuban Five" Heads to Supreme Court

by Tony Mauro
Jan. 30, 2009
Reprinted from Legal Times

Lawyers for five agents of the Cuban government who were convicted on charges relating to their infiltration of anti-Castro groups in Florida in 2000 filed an appeal at the Supreme Court today. They claim that the trial judge's refusal to grant a change of venue from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale subjected the defendants to an unfairly hostile climate and jury pool in Miami, with its large anti-Castro population.

If the Court grants review, the justices could take their first look in decades at the standard that should be used in deciding when to change venue in criminal trials. With heightened media scrutiny that makes local news national almost instantly, the issue is timely, according to statement by some judges in the case below. In the case of the Cuban defendants, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit used a stringent test of whether it would be "virtually impossible" for defendants to get a fair trial, and based on that test said a change of venue was not needed.

Among the lawyers filing the petition today are Thomas Goldstein, co-head of appellate practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in D.C., and the legendary Leonard Weinglass, who, along with William Kunstler, defended the Chicago 7, dissidents accused of conspiracy to riot during the 1968 Democratic convention. In a telephone press conference this morning, Goldstein said the case of the Cuban 5 has gotten "tremendous international attention" from human rights groups that criticize the fairness of the trial because of local hostility in Miami to the Cuban government. The defendants are serving prison terms ranging from 15 years to life.

The appeal also includes a challenge to the prosecution's strike of most potential jurors who were black.


Text of the Press Release from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Jan. 30, 2009

Thomas Goldstein

On Friday, January 30, counsel for the “Cuban Five” will file a petition for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court.  To discuss the filing, the attorneys will hold a telephonic press conference that day at 11 a.m. ET.  

The Cuban Five are five individuals convicted in Miami, Florida, on charges relating to spying for the government of Cuba on anti-Castro organizations.  The charges, trial, and convictions generated a storm of protest from, among others, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, numerous Nobel Laureates, and hundreds of parliamentarians from governments around the world.  Of particular concern, the defendants were tried in the poisonously anti-Castro environment of Miami, Florida.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit initially threw out the convictions on the ground that the Five could not receive a fair trial in Miami.  The full court of appeals later reversed that decision on the grounds that anti-Castro attitudes in Miami were irrelevant to their right to a fair trial.  The dissenters urged the Supreme Court to review the case. 

The petition for certiorari will illustrate the taint of the jury by focusing on the conviction of one of the Five on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder.  That charge claimed an agreement to shoot down Brothers to the Rescue planes in international airspace.  The jury convicted on that charge– sentencing the defendant to life in prison– despite the implausibility of the allegation and the absence of any relevant evidence.

The press conference will be led by the Supreme Court counsel to the Five, Thomas Goldstein.  Mr. Goldstein co-chairs the Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and teaches Supreme Court Litigation at both Stanford Law School and Harvard Law School.  He is recognized as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America and has argued 20 Supreme Court cases.  Mr. Goldstein will be joined by several of his co-counsel, including Len Weinglass and Michael Krinsky.

 

Comunicado de prensa de ‏Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

30 de enero de 2009
Traducción por Juanita López

El viernes 30 de enero el abogado de los Cinco Cubanos presentará una petición de un mandato de certiorari en la Corte Suprema. Los abogados sostendrán una conferencia de prensa telefónica ese día a las 11 AM ET para comentar la presentación.

Los Cinco Cubanos son cinco personas que fueron declaradas culpables en Miami de cargos de realizar espionaje para el gobierno de Cuba en organizaciones contrarias a Castro. Las acusaciones, el juicio y las sentencias desataron una tormenta de protestas provenientes de la Comisión de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, un gran número de personalidades laureadas con el Premio Nobel, y cientos de parlamentarios de gobiernos de todo el mundo, entre otras. Es de particular importancia que los acusados fueran llevados a juicio en Miami, Florida, un ambiente envenenado contra Castro.

La Corte de Apelaciones de los Estados Unidos para el Onceno Circuito rechazó inicialmente las sentencias, sobre la base de que los Cinco no podían tener un juicio justo en Miami. Más tarde la corte completa de apelaciones revertió esa decisión, apoyándose en que las actitudes contra Castro en Miami eran irrelevantes en cuanto al derecho de los Cinco a tener un juicio justo. Los que disienten de esta opinión piden a la Corte Suprema revisar el caso.

La petición de certiorari ilustrará la falla del jurado al concentrarse en la condena de uno de los Cinco por el cargo de conspiración para cometer asesinato. Esta acusación proclama la existencia de un acuerdo para derribar los aviones de Hermanos al Rescate en el espacio aéreo internacional. El jurado declaró culpabilidad por este cargo – sentenciando al acusado a cadena perpetua – a pesar de la falta de probabilidades de la acusación y la ausencia de alguna evidencia relevante.

La conferencia de prensa estará encabezada por Thomas Goldstein, abogado de la Corte Suprema para los Cinco. El Sr. Goldstein co-preside en el Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP los ejercicios concernientes a la Corte Suprema, y es profesor de "Litigios en la Corte Suprema" en la Escuela de Leyes de Stanford y la Escuela de Leyes de Harvard. Está reconocido como uno de los cien abogados de más influencia en América y ha discutido 20 casos en la Corte Suprema. El Sr. Goldstein estará acompañado de varios de sus colegas, entre ellos Len Weinglass and Michael Krinsky.

 

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