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Human Rights Commission Demands an Explanation of the Violent Death of a Cuban in Police Custody

It points to the first revelation of a trial against government officials who 'facilitated' emigration to the capital.


On Monday the Cuban Human Rights Commission (CCDHRN) demanded an "explanation of the regime’s responsibility" for the violent death of a prisoner in police custody in Placetas, Villa Clara.

In its monthly report on repression, the opposition group CCDHRN described the incident as the "most serious to transpire in the month of August."

The organization noted that on the ninth day of the month preceding Alejandro Pupo Echemendía died at the Placetas Police Station.

"Relatives and witnesses stated (and showed photographs) that the corpse presented several injuries indicating that Pupo Echemendia had been brutally mistreated before his death," the organization reported.

"It is evident that Pupo Echemendía was taken by PNR agents, subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior, and held at the police station in Placetas, from whence they took him away dead. Official responsibility in this flagrant case of another citizen who died under police custody must be clarified," it demanded.

The report also mentioned the execution of a trial against government officials who allegedly falsified documents to "facilitate" moves from the provinces to the capital and charged for it.

DIARIO DE CUBA reported on the case. The Prosecutor's Office is seeking up to 15 years in prison for the main defendants involved: Sonia Milagro Barban, ex counsel for the Municipal Housing Directorate of Cerro, and Iluminada Machado, a former official at the Provincial Administrative Council of Havana, in a case that reflects the obstacles to legal residence in the country's capital imposed by the Government.

"For the first time in the history of the Republic of Cuba, late last month saw the announcement of the initiation of a criminal trial against a score of officials and other citizens who are accused of bribery, the forging of documents, and other crimes aimed at facilitating the illegal transfer of people residing in other provinces to the capital of the republic, for which they established a veritable criminal network," said the CCDHRN.

As for the repression of dissidents, the organization stated that it had verified "at least 219 arbitrary arrests, for political reasons." The number is similar to that registered in July (229).

Although the number of arrests has declined, the CCDHRN noted that "the secret political police perpetrated at least 21 acts of harassment, and four physical attacks against dissidents."

It also blocked nine from traveling to Peru in August to participate in two academic events, while another ten were unable to leave the country during the month. The authorities offered various pretexts, or simply dismissed inquiries, a fact condemned by the CCDHRN.

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