Cuban court sentences two dissident artists to prison terms | Protests News

Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Maykel Castillo obtain five- and nine-year phrases, respectively, Cuban prosecutor says.

A Cuban court docket has sentenced two dissident artists to 9 and 5 years in jail, the federal government introduced, in a high-profile case that rights teams have slammed as a “sham” that violates free speech.

The activists, Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Maykel Castillo, are outstanding members of the Havana-based San Isidro Motion, an artists collective that led various protests over two years. Most of the group have since left Cuba, alleging authorities repression.

Otero Alcantara was sentenced to 5 years in jail for defaming the nationwide flag, contempt and public dysfunction, in keeping with an announcement from the Cuban Prosecutor’s Workplace on Friday.

Castillo was sentenced to 9 years for comparable crimes, in addition to assault.

Each males, thought-about prisoners of conscience by worldwide rights group Amnesty Worldwide, have already spent months behind bars, drawing widespread condemnation and calls for his or her launch.

Juan Pappier, a senior Americas researcher with Human Rights Watch, stated on Twitter that Friday’s ruling “is a sham that overtly violates freedom of expression and affiliation”.

“We demand the speedy and unconditional launch of Maykel and Luis Manuel,” Pappier stated.

Amnesty Worldwide’s Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas additionally demanded the pair be launched together with “all these imprisoned for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and defending rights in Cuba”.

The boys’s trials “are a shameful instance of the human rights disaster brought on by the Cuban authorities’s decades-long coverage of repression”, she stated, saying Otero Alcantara and Castillo have been “prisoners of conscience who’re being held solely for exercising their rights”.

In an announcement, PEN America additionally denounced the ruling, saying it offers “a blow to inventive freedom in Cuba” in addition to to the Cuban artists and activists within the nation and overseas “who’ve fought for the correct to precise themselves”.

“The Cuban authorities might search to extinguish unbiased expression on the island, however they won’t achieve success,” stated Julie Trebault, director of the artists in danger connection (ARC) at PEN America.

Each Otero Alcantara and Castillo appeared within the music video for “Patria y Vida”, a defiant hip-hop tune that turned the unofficial “anthem” for widespread anti-government protests that broke out in Cuba final July.

The international press, rights teams and diplomats have been barred from attending the courtroom proceedings.

Cuban state media on Friday detailed a number of the proof specified by the trials and displayed footage from the proceedings, calling the lads’s actions “frequent crimes” and rejecting the view of rights teams.

“By no means are they political prisoners or prisoners of conscience,” the ruling Communist Occasion’s newspaper Granma stated in a narrative, citing prosecutors who tried the case. “They aren’t right here due to their mind-set; nor are they being charged with crimes towards state safety, however slightly for going towards social order.”

Cuban state media have beforehand referred to as Castillo and Otero Alcantara’s San Isidro Motion a part of a US-directed “tender coup” try, prices they deny.

The 2 males have 10 days to enchantment their sentences, state media stated.