MIAMI, United States. Lawyer and Cubanet independent journalist Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces, was sentenced this morning to one year in prison –with correctional work with internment- during a trial held at the Municipal Court of Guantanamo, Cuba, for the crime of “resistance and disobedience”.
On April 22, Quiñones was arrested and beaten by agents of Cuba’s secret police as he was about to report on the trial against pastors Rigal and Exposito, the husband and wife being tried for wanting to home-school their children. At that time, Quiñones was kept in prison for five days, and released pending trial.
“They did not accept the evidence I presented regarding the lesions I suffered as a result of the beating. They said the lesions were self-inflicted”, said Quiñones via telephone.
In June, Quiñones refused to pay a fine imposed by Cuban authorities, on grounds that he was not responsible for what occurred during his arrest. He stated that he would not pay the fine. This refusal caused his being summoned to court for the trial that took place this morning.
Quiñones has stated that he will appeal the verdict of the Municipal Court, and he has until next Monday to do so. Afterward, the Provincial Court has up to ten days to issue a definitive ruling.
While the appeal is in progress, Quiñones may remain at home, but he is forbidden from leaving Guantanamo province or to undertake any migratory paperwork.
“I do not expect anything positive from Castro’s government, but I will not kneel before the oppressors of the Cuban people,” he added in a text published yesterday.
“I am grateful for all the support and solidarity I’ve received from my brothers and sisters in the opposition, from members of my church, from neighbors and colleagues. I extend the same gratitude to American diplomats and political leaders who have pronounced themselves publicly about my case, amongst them his Excellency Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, who expressed his concern over my well-being on July 31st. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I was summoned the very next day to face trial.”
“I am grateful for all gestures of support throughout all these years from people who do me the honor of reading my articles, and, of course, to my brothers and sisters in the administration of CubaNet and also Radio Marti, for their permanent solidarity.”
“No one will give us freedom. Freedom is a choice that lies within us. Together with many other fellow Cubans, I have chosen to be free, and I don’t think there is anything extraordinary about that. I am in God’s hands,” he concluded. The most recent report from the Association for Freedom of the Press reveals that harassment against independent journalists in Cuba has increased.
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