Cuban case against US contractor set for verdict

A Cuban court on Saturday declared the case against US contractor Alan Gross, who is accused of crimes against the state, concluded, pending a verdict and sentencing in the next few days, the Cuban government said.

Updated: Mar 06, 2011, 13:34 PM IST

Havana: A Cuban court on Saturday declared the case against US contractor Alan Gross, who is accused of crimes against the state, concluded, pending a verdict and sentencing in the next few days, the Cuban government said.

Gross is accused of illegally supplying Internet gear to Cuban dissidents and faces a possible 20-year sentence.

A statement by the Cuban government yesterday night said
that during the trial Gross accepted some responsibility but
added that he had been "used" and blamed the company that sent
him to the island.

The fate of Alan Gross, a 61-year-old Maryland native
detained for more than a year since being caught bringing
communications equipment into the communist-run island, was in
the hands of a five-judge panel.

Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman for the US diplomatic
mission on the island, reiterated after the government
statement was released that no verdict had been announced. She
said Gross` Cuban lawyer would be notified when a verdict was
reached.

Gross` American lawyer, Peter J. Kahn, issued a short
statement earlier, saying only that the trial had ended and
that "the family remains hopeful that Alan will be home soon."

Gross was working for Development Alternatives Inc. as part of
a USAID-backed "democracy building" program when he was
arrested in December 2009. He has been held at Havana`s
maximum-security Villa Marista jail ever since most of that
time without charge.

His detention has worsened relations between Cuba and
Washington, with US officials making clear that no meaningful
rapprochement is possible while Gross is in jail.

Cuba says USAID programs like the one Gross was working
on are aimed at overthrowing the government of President Raul
Castro. US officials and Gross` family insist he was trying to
provide Internet service to the island`s Jewish community and
has done nothing wrong.

According to the government statement read on state
television`s main news broadcast, Gross "accused DAI of having
put him in danger and leading to his current situation, to
ruin the life and well-being of his family."

Should Gross be convicted, efforts would immediately turn
to getting him released through a court order or executive
pardon, possibly on humanitarian grounds. His wife and US
officials say Gross has lost more than 90 pounds while in
jail, and note that his 26-year-old daughter and 88-year-old
mother are both suffering from cancer.

PTI

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