Ex-Cuban judge hits coun­try’s le­gal sys­tem

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Frances Robles

A for­mer high-rank­ing judge in Cuba has joined an antigov­ern­ment ac­tivist in re­veal­ing in­for­ma­tion from se­cret govern­ment doc­u­ments that show the govern­ment is hold­ing thou­sands of in­mates on du­bi­ous charges and has the high­est in­car­cer­a­tion rate in the world.

The rev­e­la­tions by Edel González Jiménez, who spent more than 15 years on the bench and once su­per­vised 65 other judges, are be­lieved to be the first pub­lic chal­lenge to the Cuban govern­ment by a top mem­ber of the ju­di­ciary.

“The re­pres­sion that I am see­ing against part of my peo­ple is not what I want for my peo­ple,” he said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Mon­day in Madrid, where he was joined by mem­bers of an or­ga­ni­za­tion that works on be­half of po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers and by mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

González told the au­di­ence that his wife had ad­vised him not to speak out but that he had gone against her wishes be­cause he felt it was his duty.

González said Cuba’s ju­di­ciary was of­ten con­trolled by state se­cu­rity forces that can man­u­fac­ture cases against po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents — a state­ment that crit­ics will read­ily agree with but that is sur­pris­ing com­ing from a man who in­sisted that he re­mains a faith­ful mem­ber of the Com­mu­nist Party of Cuba and a be­liever in Fidel Cas­tro’s project.

His avowed sup­port of the govern­ment makes his words sig­nif­i­cantly trou­bling for a coun­try that paints dis­si­dents as mer­ce­nar­ies for Wash­ing­ton.

González was joined at the news con­fer­ence by Javier Lar­rondo, a long­time anti- Cas­tro ac­tivist who runs an or­ga­ni­za­tion called Pris­on­ers De­fend­ers in Madrid, in pub­licly an­nounc­ing his call for the Cuban govern­ment to re­spect civil rights.

“This is an im­por­tant blow to the regime,” Lar­rondo said.

GIAN­FRANCO TRIPODO/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Edel González Jiménez, left, and Javier Lar­rondo say Cuba is hold­ing thou­sands of in­mates on du­bi­ous charges.

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