Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Cuba reviews terror death sentence

The man was convicted of terrorism offences during the presidency of Fidel Castro

Cuba's Supreme Court has begun reviewing the death sentence of a Salvadoran man convicted of terrorism for a series of hotel bombs in 1997.

Government website Cubadebate said the review of Ernesto Cruz Leon's sentence began on Thursday, but it did not give details of the process or a timetable.

Cruz Leon confessed to planting bombs in five Cuban hotels and a restaurant between July and September 1997 in a plot to scare away tourists and hurt a prime source of income for the island.

He and fellow Salvadoran Otto Rene Rodriguez were sentenced to death in 1999 for the plot, which killed an Italian tourist and wounded 11 other people, including seven foreigners.

It was allegedly organised and financed by Cuban-Venezuelan Luis Posada Carriles, one of Cuba's most-wanted men.

Posada Carriles is also accused in the bombing of a Cuban jetliner and in a series of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Earlier this year Venezuela captured and extradited to Cuba another Salvadoran suspect in the hotel bombings: Francisco Chavez Abarca, who allegedly recruited Cruz Leon.

Cuba's constitution allows for capital punishment, but in 2008, President Raul Castro announced that all death sentences for common criminals would be commuted and even those convicted of terrorism would have their sentences reviewed.

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