The fiveGerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René Gonzálezare Cuban revolutionaries unjustly imprisoned in the United States for more than 13 years. They were arrested by the FBI in 1998 and convicted in 2001 on a series of frame-up charges, including of conspiracy to commit espionage and, in the case of Hernández, of conspiracy to commit murder. The five were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 years for René González to double life plus 15 years for Hernández.
The five had lived and worked in southern Florida in order to keep the Cuban government informed on activities of counterrevolutionary groups with a history of assaults and acts of sabotage against Cuba. An international campaign has been fighting to draw attention to the case and win their freedom.
Jane Kelsey, a professor of law at the university, pointed out that the charges laid against the five Cuban revolutionaries, involving extreme abuses of legal process, have an uncomfortable resonance in New Zealand.
Four of those arrested in the Urewera raids face conspiracy charges not dissimilar to those against the Cuban Five, she said, referring to Maori rights advocates targeted in an antiterrorism frame-up in 2007. Such charges require no proof of an act having occurred.
The meeting discussed the impending release of René González October 7. Part of his sentence includes a three-year supervised release. Gonzálezs request to return to Cuba after prison was denied September 16 as premature by U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard. His lawyer announced he intends to renew the request as soon as González is released.
Twenty-three people attended the meeting. Daniel Haines, International Affairs Officer of the Students Association, addressed the gathering. Annalucia Vermunt, who ran as the Communist Leagues candidate for Auckland mayor last year, spoke on behalf of the Cuba Friendship Society.
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