Chronology in the Case of the “Cuban Five”

Chronology in the Case of the “Cuban Five“ in brief:

Beginning in the early 1990s, the Cuban Five infiltrated terrorist Cuban exile groups in South Florida, in order to inform Cuban authorities about the terrorist groups’ planned attacks against Cuba. (In 1999 Cuba complained to the U.N. of the 3,478 deaths and 2,099 disabled Cuban people, caused by terrorist attacks planned and carried out by exile Cubans mainly based in Miami.)

June 16 and 17, 1998: The Cuban government gave voluminous documents to the FBI as evidence concerning terrorist activities in South Florida.

September, 12, 1998: The FBI arrests 10 members of the “Red Wasp”, the Cuban agency network. The prosecution manages to persuade five of them to “cooperate” (in turn they receive just common penalties for their illegal activities as foreign agents). The other five disappear into solitary confinement for 17 months and are then charged with 26 federal counts, including espionage conspiracy, and in the case of Gerardo Hernández, for murder conspiracy as well.

June, 2001: after an unprecedented trial over 6 months an intimidated jury in spite of the lack of evidence finds the five guilty of all charges. In December 2001, they are sentenced to from 15 years up to two life terms + 15 years, and then transferred to different high security prisons widely spread across the USA.

April – May 2003: The defence is unable to file their appeals to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta on the established date of April 7, 2003. (From the end of February to the beginning of March 2003, solitary confinement in isolation units was again imposed on the five, amounting to torture. This was originally to last for one year and could have been prolonged arbitrarily. Because of the international protests, among them that of Amnesty International, they were released from solitary confinement after one month.)

March 10, 2004: Oral arguments hearing by three 11th-circuit judges from Atlanta in Miami (with the observance of international lawyers, including attorney Eberhard Schultz, Germany).

May, 27, 2005: The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Committee of Human Rights in Geneva publishes, after having analyzed the case for two years, its “Opinion No. 19/2005” addressed to the Government of the United States on April 8, 2004. Their conclusion on page 6: “The deprivation of liberty” of the Cuban Five “is arbitrary, being in contravention of article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and corresponds to category III of the applicable categories examined in the cases before the Working Group.” s.

August 9, 2005: The panel of three judges of the Court of Appeals in Atlanta issues its 93-page opinion, saying the sentences of the Five must be annulled because of the pervasive biased atmosphere during the trial in Miami-Dade and a new trial is granted in a new venue outside of Miami. s.

October 31, 2005: The appeal of the federal prosecution is accepted and an en banc hearing of all 12 judges of the Court of Appeals in Atlanta is granted to the U.S. attorney.

On February 14, 2006, an oral arguments hearing before the 12 judges takes place. One of the international observers of this trial is again the German human rights attorney, Eberhard Schultz.

August 9, 2006: The panel of 12 judges revises the former decision of the three judge panel by a voting 10: 2. (One judge of the three-judge panel had retired in between)

November 20, 2006: The defence team files an appeal because of 9 pending accounts of indictment for having them revised by two of the former three-judge panel in Atlanta.

August 20, 2007: The third oral arguments hearing before 3 judges takes place in Atlanta, – meanwhile President George W. Bush had nominated judge William Pryor for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. He joined the two judges J. Birch and Phyllis Kravitch, members of the former three-judge panel. Among the 50 attending international observers are two Germans: human rights attorney, Eberhard Schultz and Professor Norman Paech, expert on international law and member of the German Parliament.

June 4, 2008: The opinion of the three-judge panel is released by a voting 2:1. Compare especially to the dissent of judge Phyllis Kravitch

September 3, 2008: The three judges dismiss a petition of the defence for a review of their decision and confirm it instead.

Supporters of the Cuban Five had sent an open letter addressed to Mr. Bush and to Mr. Alberto Gonzales after the panel of three judges of the Court of Appeals had issued its 93-page opinion on August 9 in 2005, saying the sentences of the Five must be annulled because of the pervasive biased atmosphere during the trial in Miami-Dade and a new trial should be granted at a new venue outside of Miami. This letter for instance was signed by

Bishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Nadine Gordimer, Rigoberta Menchú, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, José Saramago, Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Alice Walker, judge i.r. Claudia Morcom, Harold Pinter and Günter Grass etc.


Josie Michel-Brüning and Dirk Brüning