Mothers of the Accused Threatened in the Case of the Jeweler
This last March 23rd, two officials of the Department of Territorial Investigations (DTI) and the military Counterintelligence, respectively, threatened the mothers of the mother of Jesus Daniel Forcada Portillo and Ramon Echevarria Fernandez, who have been sentenced to 35 years in prison for murder, with a worsening of the case of their sons because of signs that appeared in Mantilla, a working class neighborhood of the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo.
“On March 20, there appeared several signs in Mantilla denouncing the injustice committed against our sons” explained Adelaida Portillo Heredia, mother of Jesus Daniel. “The officials wanted to know who put the flyers up and we don’t know anything about that” she added. The climate of tension in the streets increased with the arrival of the Pope to Cuba
Portillo Heredia confirmed also that the officials threatened to obstruct justice in the case of her son. “They told me that it was worsening the case if signs continued to appear, although I had contacted the police and the prosecutor and told them I was not going to be able to correct this, not even with the lawyer of the case,” referring to the possibility of filing an appeal of the sentence handed down by the Havana Court this past third of March
She also revealed that they had threatened Aida Echevarria Fernandez, the mother of Ramón with holding up her exit from the country and the return to Cuba of one of her sons who resides in the U.S.
The officials asserted to the mother of Jesus Daniel that the signs were all over the city and they showed her one. According to Adelaida, the flyers accused Esther Fernández Almieda, 60 years old and the widow of the jeweler, Humberto Gonzales Otaño as the person responsible for his death and of having paid the police, district attorneys and judges to avoid being incriminated. Also on the flyer, they asked why the families of the Five Heroes* appealed for justice all over the world while they could not and because no-one was listening to them, they would appeal for help from the Pope”
Portillo Heredia also affirmed that they had sent more than a dozen written complaints to different authorities motivated by the departure from the country of Mrs. Fernández Almeida during the investigations and asserted that she is recently overseas. The wife of the jeweler gave her declaration as the only eyewitness of the murder and surviving victim in the trial but the court did not ask her about her travel outside the country in spite of continuing complaints of the family members of the accused.
* A reference to the five Cubans convicted in a Miami court of being unregistered foreign agents and given long sentences in the U.S. The Cuban government has maintained a high level of publicity regarding “the 5”.
Translated by: William Fitzhugh
April 3 2012