More new sentences for the Cuban Five

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A federal court handed down new sentences on Monday for two members of the so-called “Cuban Five,” a group of Cuban intelligence agents accused of spying in the United States.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida sentenced Ramon Labinino to 30 years in prison, down from life in prison, and Fernando Gonzalez to 17 years and 9 months, down from 19 years.

In October, U.S. Federal District Court Judge Joan Lenard imposed a 21 year, 10 month sentence on Antonio Guerrero, who had been serving a life sentence.

Labinino, Gonzalez, and Guerrero issued the following joint statement on Monday:

Dear Sisters and Brothers from Cuba and from all over the World:

We have already served more than 11 years in prison and there is still no justice at any level of the American legal system.

Three of us have come to the Miami Court to be re-sentenced due to an order from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which determined that our sentences had been erroneously imposed.

Our brother Gerardo Hernández, who is serving two life terms plus 15 years, has been arbitrarily excluded from this re-sentencing process. His situation remains the principal injustice in our case. The US Government is well aware of the falseness of the accusations against him and the unfairness of his sentence.

This has been a complex process, difficult and much discussed in every detail, in which we participated along with our counsels. We did not give an inch in our principles, decorum and honor, always defending our innocence and the dignity of our Homeland.

Just as it did at the moment of our arrest and at other occasions during these long years, the US Government proposes now that we collaborate to obtain more benevolent sentences. Once again, we have rejected such proposals, something that we never will accept under any circumstances.

Present in the results of these re-sentencing hearings are the work of the legal team and the indestructible solidarity of all of you.

It is significant that the US Government, for the first time in 11 years, was obliged to recognize that we did not cause any damage to its national security.

Also, for the first time, the prosecutor publicly recognized the existence of a strong international movement in support of our immediate freedom, a movement that affects the image of the US judicial system in the eyes of the international community.

Once again the absolute political character of this process is confirmed.

We the Five are punished for accusations that never have been proved. Although three of our sentences were partially reduced, the injustice remains for all of us.

The Cuban-American terrorists continue to enjoy total impunity.

We reiterate: The Five are innocent!

We feel profoundly moved and grateful for the permanent solidarity that you give us, so crucial in this long battle for justice.

Together with you, we will continue until the final victory, which only will be reached with the return of the Five to our Homeland.

In 2001, a Miami court sentenced the Five to four life sentences and a combined 75 years in prison for, among other charges, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit espionage against the United States.

While the men have been hailed as heroes for their actions in Cuba and elsewhere, anti-Castro and exile groups, especially in the United States, argue the punishment is justified.

A three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit overturned all five convictions in 2005 on the grounds there should have been a change of venue from Miami, where the trial received negative coverage and prevented the men from receiving a fair trial, to another location.

The full Eleventh Circuit reversed the 2005 decision a year later rejecting the claim the trial should have been moved from Miami.

The case again came before a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit in 2007. In June 2008, the panel vacated three sentences – two of which were for life – and sent them back to a federal court in Miami for resentencing based on the panel’s opinion that none of the five men gathered classified military information while in the United States.

The panel vacated the life sentences for Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez, concurring with their argument that their sentences were improperly configured because they did not gather or transmit classified information.

The panel vacated Fernando Gonzalez’s 19 year sentence, ruling his sentence was too harsh because he was not a supervisor of the group that Cuban intelligence dubbed “The Wasp Network.”

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