The trial against Cuban artists and dissidents Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo, “El Osorbo”, began this morning amid strong security measures in Havana.
Otero Alcántara and Castillo, for whom the prosecution is asking for 7 and 10 years in prison, respectively, have been in provisional prison since last year. The human rights NGOs Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) have demanded that they be released “immediately and unconditionally”.
The hearing, for which sessions have been scheduled for this Monday and Tuesday, began with the Court of Marianao surrounded by a police cordon that only some family members could cross. Neither the media nor NGOs have access to the trial.
Diplomats from the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden approached the courthouse, but were unable to access its interior.
“We just want to go in to observe the trial and so far we have not received permission,” a German diplomat told international media.
He added that they are following the case “very closely.” “We want human rights to be respected in all places and countries,” he said.
On the other hand, LMOA sister managed to enter the Court, according to the art curator Claudia Genlui Hidalgo.
Activists described the process as a farce and demanded a public and televised trial. Several denounced in networks being besieged in their homes and internet cuts.
The official Cuban media did not report on the trial.
The Cuban Prosecutor’s Office requested last March, in a document to which Efe had access, seven and ten years in prison, respectively, for Otero Alcántara and Castillo.
Otero Alcántara, leader of the San Isidro Movement (MSI) and in jail since July 11, is accused of the alleged crimes of outrage against the symbols of the country, contempt and public disorder. AI considers him a prisoner of conscience.
Rapper Castillo, in prison since May 2021, is charged with the alleged crimes of contempt, “defamation of institutions and organizations and of heroes and martyrs”, attack and public disorder.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has demanded Castillo’s immediate release, since it considers that the process against him is illegal.
This trial is not linked to the anti-government protests of July 11. They are being tried for some controversial events that occurred on April 4, 2021.
That day, “El Osorbo”, co-performer of the song “Patria y vida” -later the slogan of the July 11 protests-, was arrested after a run-in with some agents, apparently because his companion was not wearing a mask.
After the incident, Castillo fled, with handcuffs on one wrist, to Otero Alcántara’s house and shouted slogans against the government from there, according to the prosecution.
The singer was not arrested until a month later and has remained in prison ever since.
The prosecution also includes in its brief other previous facts that it considers to constitute a crime by the two dissidents.
Among them, “offensive writings against the flag” on the networks, posting “memes” on Facebook to “ridicule and discredit” the country’s president and accusing the Government in a direct network of “the lack of medical resources” during the pandemic .
The case includes three others under investigation: Félix Roque Delgado (request for five years in prison for attack), Juslid Justiz Lazo (five years of correctional work with internment for attack) and Reina Sierra Duvergel (three years of correctional work without internment for attack ).