Tuesday, June 16, 2009

High court won't review 'Cuban 5' espionage case

High court won't review 'Cuban 5' espionage case


June 15, 2009
Reprinted from Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ­ The Supreme Court on Monday refused to review the convictions of five Cuban intelligence agents who say they did not receive a fair trial because of strong anti-Castro sentiment in Miami.

The justices left in place the convictions of the so-called "Cuban Five," despite calls from Nobel Prize winners and international legal groups to review the case.

The five ­ Ruben Campa, Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Medina and Antonio Guerrero ­ were convicted on charges of acting as unregistered Cuban agents in the United States and of espionage conspiracy for attempting to penetrate U.S. military bases.

Hernandez was also convicted of murder conspiracy in the deaths of four Miami-based pilots whose planes, part of the Brothers to the Rescue organization, were shot down by Cuban fighter jets in 1996 off the island's coast.

The five have been lionized as heroes in Cuba, while exile groups say they were justly punished.

Ten Nobel Prize winners and lawyers and legal groups from more than a dozen countries groups urged the high court to step into the case.

The Obama administration contended that the convictions were fairly won, and that high court review was unnecessary.

A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Atlanta initially reversed the convictions, agreeing with the defendants that the trial should have been moved from Miami.

But the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the convictions.

Hernandez is serving a life sentence, while Gonzalez is serving a prison term of 15 years.

The appeals court ordered new sentences for the other three men, including two who originally were given life in prison.

The case is Campa v. U.S., 08-987.

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