September 5, 1997
Cuban Dissident Jailed
for Calling Castro: "Crazy"
HAVANA, Sept 4 (Reuter) - A Cuban dissident was jailed for 18 months
Thursday on a charge of ``disrespect for authority'' arising from a German
television interview in which he criticized Cuba's President Fidel Castro
referred to him as ``crazy.''
Hector Palacio Ruiz, who had been in custody since January, was
in a municipal court in Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion district. The
he received was half the three years jail term sought by the state
Palacio was the head of a dissident group called the Democratic
Party (PSD), which is not recognized by Cuba's one-party communist
He was arrested after giving an interview to Germany's ARD television
network, broadcast in December, in which he strongly criticized Castro's
and called for reforms. At one point in the interview, he used the word
``crazy'' to refer to Castro.
Leaving the courtroom after sentencing, Palacio raised his hands to
small group of his supporters gathered outside. They cheered and then
sing Cuba's national anthem. One or two shouted ``Long live human
Palacio's wife described the sentence as ``unjust and cruel.''
``Criticizing one's government is not a crime. It's our right,'' she
Supporters of Palacio said plain clothes security agents mingled with
small crowd outside the court room.
Since his arrest in January, Palacio's case had been taken up by
International and the European Community.
Cuba's penal code contains a section dealing with the crime of
``disrespect'' which penalizes anyone who ``threatens, defames or
figure of authority or public official. If this figure is the head of
possible penalty is a jail term of between one and three years.
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