French man gets 15 years prison in Cuba

11th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Cuban court sentenced a French businessman to 15 years in prison Wednesday on charges of money laundering linked to drug trafficking and tax evasion, sources close to the defense said.

Jean-Louis Autret, who has been living in Cuba since 1993, has 10 days to appeal his sentence to Cuba's Supreme Court.

Autret's Cuban wife was sentenced to five years in prison and four years of "correctional labor," the defense source said, while the court has yet to sentence seven other Cubans linked to the case.

Autret, 53, was arrested in April 2009 after he sold his yacht in October 2004 to two French citizens.

French and Spanish authorities stopped the yacht off the coast of Cape Verde in September 2005 and found 2.8 tonnes of cocaine aboard.

Autret cleared his name in the French courts on the case, but Cuban authorities took him to court in connection to activities that include money laundering, tax evasion and falsifying documents.

In the trial, which began in July, the prosecutor said Autret's money laundering was part of "a cyclical movement of money between bank accounts in Cuba and abroad, aimed at hiding and legalizing" profits from "the illicit trade in narcotics."

Autret's attorney Menelao Mora insisted on the "total innocence" of his client, and called for his release.

© 2011 AFP

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