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High Court dismisses genocide lawsuit against Castro

14 December 2007

MADRID – The Spanish High Court on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit accusing Fidel Castro of genocide, arguing that the Cuban leader is immune from prosecution because he is still a head of state.

The ruling echoes two previous judgments by the court on cases brought by Cuban dissidents against the communist dictator under Spain’s so-called principle of universal jurisdiction, which empowers Spanish courts to investigate serious crimes that took place in other countries.

The previous cases had been presented in 1998 and 2005 and had accused Castro of a range of offences. In the latest lawsuit, a Miami, Florida-based group calling itself the Committee to Aid Dissidents 2506 (CAD 2506) filed charges of genocide against Castro for the deaths of nine prisoners during the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.

The group, which takes its name from the 2506 Brigade, the US-backed unit that launched the attack, alleged that Castro had intentionally attempted to kill the prisoners, who suffocated in the back of a sealed truck on the way to Havana. However, a panel of 19 High Court judges who reviewed the case yesterday said their deaths could not be considered genocide because there was no apparent intention to wipe out a specific ideological, ethnic, racial or religious group.

The panel also noted that Castro cannot be prosecuted under Spanish law because he is still the Cuban head of state even though he has delegated most of his duties to his brother Raúl since falling ill last year.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ JOSÉ YOLDI 2007]

Subject: Spanish news