Cuba commutes another bomber's death sentence
By PAUL HAVEN
HAVANA -- For the second time this month, the Cuban Supreme Court
commuted the death sentence of a Salvadoran man convicted of plotting a
series of Havana hotel bombings in 1997, leaving just one person left on
the island's death row.
Otto Rene Rodriguez Llerena's sentence was reduced to 30 years in
prison, according to a story posted late Monday on the state-run
Cubadebate Web site.
The court last week commuted the death sentence of another Salvadoran
man convicted in the case, Ernesto Cruz Leon, giving him 30 years in
prison as well.
Both men admitted guilt in the bombings, which killed an Italian tourist
and wounded 11 other people including seven foreigners. They were
convicted in 1999.
The plot was allegedly organized and financed by Cuban-Venezuelan Luis
Posada Carriles - a former CIA operative and one of Cuba's most-wanted
men, who is also accused in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner and in
a series of attempts to assassinate former Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Posada Carriles acknowledged involvement in the hotel bombings, but
later retracted the admission and denied playing any role. He was
awaiting a Venezuelan trial over the airliner attack when he escaped
from jail and fled the country. Today he lives in the United States,
where he faces charges of lying to federal authorities in his 2005 bid
to become a U.S. citizen.
While capital punishment is allowed under Cuba's constitution, President
Raul Castro announced in 2008 that nearly all death sentences would be
commuted, and the rest - a handful of capital cases involving terrorism
- would be reviewed.
The only prisoner remaining on death row is Cuban-American Humberto
Eladio Real, a member of an anti-Fidel Castro group who was convicted of
killing a policeman in 1994.