A Cuban court has sentenced Roberto Pérez Fonseca to 10 years imprisonment for allegedly attacking police officers “with stones and bottles,” during the July 11-12 nationwide demonstrations, it was reported Saturday.
According to human rights groups monitoring the Cuban situation, It was the longest sentence imposed on a detainee related to the July 11 protests.
The Municipal People's Court of San José de las Lajas, a town 35 km from Havana, imposed on Roberto Pérez Fonseca, 38, the joint and only sanction to serve 10 years in prison for crimes of contempt, attack, public disorder and instigation to commit a crime,” according to a ruling dated October 6.
The court based its decision on the testimony of police officer Jorge Luis García Montero, the only witness worth hearing to the magistrates because the witnesses for the defence were dismissed as partial due to their links with Pérez Fonseca.
Pérez threw a stone at a police officer, causing him abrasions that did not require medical assistance, and he threw another stone that hit a patrol that did not show any damage, in addition to ignoring the confinement order for COVID-19, indicates the document. The police officer stated that Perez Fonseca incited other people to throw rocks and bottles on the day of the protests. He said the defendant threw a rock that hit him in the wrist and another that struck a police car, according to the sentencing document.
But Alberto Ortega, a brother of the defendant, claimed the conviction was in fact for having destroyed a picture of Fidel Castro. Perez Fonseca, a father of two, was arrested at his mother's home on July 16.
The sentence is excessive and violates all guarantees of due process, said Laritza Diversent, director of the Miami-based human rights NGO Cubalex. The July 11 and 12 demonstrations in about 50 cities left one dead, dozens injured and 1,130 detainees, of which more than 560 are still in prison, according to Cubalex.
The court's ruling came a few weeks before a mass demonstration is scheduled to take place on Nov. 15. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel has accused the US government of arrogance and frustration for its warning to apply sanctions if Havana prosecutes the organizers of the peaceful march, which has already been deemed illegal and its promoters have been advised they would be prosecuted if they stuck to their decision to march.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has denounced a brutal strategy of repression by the Cuban government after the July 11 protests, with at least 130 cases of arbitrary detentions, mistreatment and false trials.
Cuba's government has maintained the July protests were part of a US-backed strategy to topple the regime and Diaz-Canel said on Twitter that the United States wanted impunity for the operators who tried to destabilize the communist state. When the US government speaks, we are hearing from the very government that funds and organizes the destabilizing scheme, Diaz-Canel said on Twitter. Enough threats.
Perez Fonseca's mother, Liset Fonseca, insisted the Cuban authorities had to do something to make an example of her son.