Cuban Demonstrators Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

A Cuban man who took part in nationwide protests in July has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, his family and a rights group said Saturday. The sentence was the harshest ever given to demonstrators against the communist government.

The verdict against Roberto Perez Fonseca, 38, was handed down by a court in San Jose de las Lajas, a city 35 kilometers from Havana.

On July 11 and 12, thousands of Cubans chanted “freedom” and “we’re hungry” in the streets of some 50 cities to protest against inadequate living conditions and government repression.

The protests, unprecedented since the 1959 Cuban revolution, left at least one person dead and dozens injured as a result of a brutal crackdown by security forces.

About 1,130 people were arrested, and more than half of them imprisoned, according to Miami-based rights group Cubalex.

The court found Perez Fonseca guilty of contempt, disturbing public order and inciting crime.

The head of Cubalex, Laritza Diversent, said the verdict was “excessive and violates all guarantees of due process. He said the prison sentence seemed to be aimed at scaring people from participating in future protests. [vm/ft]

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