Judicial Arbitrariness Against a Dissident
Photo: City of Havana Provincial Court
Cuban judicial courts are violating the law, in the case of the independent journalist Dania Virgen García’s procedure of appeal. This blogger, who belongs to the Ladies of Support for the Ladies in White, was arrested in Havana, April 20, and tried in three days.
The Municipal Court of San Miguel del Padrón committed the first violation. It refused to accept the appeal brief. It demanded the appointment of a lawyer or that the accused be present. García was in the provisional prison in the central penitentiary for women, “Manto Negro” [Black Cloak]
In the allegation, the appellant explains the reasons that justify her disagreement with the verdict and presents herself before the same court that handed it down. The García family doesn’t accept opposition political activity. Her daughter brought the accusation. The independent journalist Luis Cino conducted the process to appeal the court sentence.
The remedy must be undertaken within three days following the notification of the sentence. García was tried on April 23.
In the same oral judgment, the verdict was handed down and the defendant notified. On the 28th the appeal was filed. Without the services of a lawyer. Legally, non-working days (weekends) are not counted.
The Penal Code declares that if the remedy is filed in time, the lower court cannot refuse to admit it. The grounds for inadmissibility belong solely to the Superior Court.
The second arbitrary act committed by the Provincial Court of the City of Havana was that it marked the date for the oral argument, but it advised the interested parties of the venue with less than 15 hours notice. The Court did not fulfill the required legal requirements for the summons.
The Judge, the president of the courtroom where the appearance would be held, advised that the date and time would be Wednesday, May 5, at 6:26 pm. I used the telephone to call the journalist Luis Cino also. The Penal Code demands that this be held within the 10 working days following the receipt of the proceedings, with the interested parties (Article 381) previously having received the official subpoena.
The defense attorney did not know about the hearing. Dania Virgen was accused by a penal procedure before a municipal court for crimes that carry a penalty of up to one year in jail. The trial was quick and did not require an attorney.
The court found her guilty of the crime of “arbitrary exercise of a right” and weighed the personal circumstances that compounded her guilt. It condemned García to one year and eight months in prison.
Legally the appointment of an official defense attorney is not expected. The justice system admits a defense attorney if the accused concurs in the judgment assisted by him. The sentence of the Provincial Court of the City of Havana is definitive. It doesn’t admit recourse against it.
Several dissidents insisted, to the Clerk of the Government of the court, that they suspend the judgment for lack of guarantees for the accused. The lawyer could not appear, and he recommended that they don’t accept the designated defense attorney. Finally, the hearing was adjourned until further notice.
Archived in Dania Virgen García
Translated by Regina Anavy