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Death row man's sentence commuted

Cuba's Supreme Court commuted the death sentence against a Cuban-American who was the last person remaining on death row in the island nation, according to a veteran human rights activist.

Elizardo Sanchez, the head of the independent Havana-based Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said the court sentenced Humberto Eladio Real to 30 years in prison instead.

Mr Sanchez said Real's parents informed him of the decision.

Earlier, the state-run Cubadebate website posted a story saying the court was reviewing an appeal by Real, who was convicted of killing a man in a 1994 raid. Cubadebate did not immediately report the court's decision.

On October 15, 1994, Real and six other members of a Florida-based exile group came ashore in northern Cuba, armed with assault rifles and other weapons. A man was killed, and the group was captured shortly thereafter.

Real received the death penalty, and the others got lengthy prison sentences.

Havana officials said the group intended to carry out acts of sabotage and attacks on military units to destabilise the government of then-President Fidel Castro.

Cuba's constitution allows the death penalty, but for years the country has effectively had a moratorium on carrying out death sentences.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court commuted the death sentences against two El Salvador men convicted for their roles in a deadly bombing campaign on tourist sites in the 1990s. Ernesto Cruz Leon and Otto Rodriguez were given 30-year prison sentences instead, leaving Real as the sole convict on death row in Cuba.

Human rights activist Mr Sanchez hailed the decision, adding "we regret that the (death) penalty remains on our penal code".

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