Cuba convicts Salvadoran on terror charges

Havana`s state security crimes tribunal convicted Francisco Chavez Abarca.

Havana: An El Salvador man has been convicted on terrorism charges for helping plan and carry out a string of bombings against Cuban tourist sites and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, Cuban state media said on Wednesday.

The Communist Party daily Granma reported that Havana`s state security crimes tribunal convicted Francisco Chavez Abarca yesterday, a day after the start of his trial.

The report said testimony by victims, eyewitnesses and two Central Americans convicted earlier in the attacks "showed how the accused recruited, trained, organised and financed" a network of Guatemalans and Salvadorans to take part in the bombings, which killed an Italian tourist in 1997.

Chavez Abarca himself also planted some of the bombs, the report said.

Havana blames Cuban-American exile groups for the attacks, and state television here has aired a confessions in which Chavez Abarca said he was hired by Luis Posada Carriles, a US-based opponent of former president Fidel Castro.

In the confessions, which aired in September, Chavez Abarca said that Posada Carriles told him the hotel attacks were backed by the CIA, although he acknowledged he could not be sure it was true.

He said he was paid USD 2,000 for each blast. Two other Salvadorans convicted for their involvement in the bombings were initially sentenced to death, though Cuba`s Supreme Court recently commuted their sentences to long prison terms.


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