Cuba commutes death sentence against US man

HAVANA—Cuba’s Supreme Court on Tuesday commuted the death sentence against a Cuban-American who was the last person remaining on death row in the island nation, according to a veteran human rights activist.

Elizardo Sanchez, the head of the independent Havana-based Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said the court sentenced Humberto Eladio Real to 30 years in prison instead. Sanchez told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that Real’s parents informed him of the decision.

Earlier Tuesday, the state-run Cubadebate website posted a story saying the court was reviewing an appeal by Real, who was convicted of killing a man in a 1994 raid. Cubadebate did not immediately report the court’s decision.

On Oct. 15, 1994, Real and six other members of a Florida-based exile group came ashore in northern Cuba, armed with assault rifles and other weapons. A man was killed, and the group was captured shortly thereafter.

Real received the death penalty, and the others got lengthy prison sentences.

Havana officials have said the group intended to carry out acts of sabotage and attacks on military units to destabilize the government of then-President Fidel Castro.

Cuba’s constitution allows the death penalty, but for years the country has effectively had a moratorium on carrying out death sentences.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court commuted the death sentences against two El Salvador men convicted for their roles in a deadly bombing campaign on tourist sites in the 1990s. Ernesto Cruz Leon and Otto Rodriguez were given 30-year prison sentences instead, leaving Real as the sole convict on death row in Cuba.

Human rights activist Sanchez hailed Tuesday’s decision, adding “we regret that the (death) penalty remains on our penal code.”

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