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Cuba27 October 2005

Woman journalist transferred from house arrest to prison

Lamasiel Gutiérrez Romero, a journalist who had been under house arrest since August, has been transferred to prison because she continued her journalistic activities in defiance of a court order, the independent Nueva Prensa Cubana agency reported on 24 October.

The report, which has been confirmed by the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN), said Gutiérrez was incarcerated in the Mantonegro women’s penitentiary in Havana province on 11 October. She is the Nueva Prensa Cubana correspondent on the Isle of Youth, where she lives.

Gutiérrez, who was sentenced on 9 August to seven months of house arrest for “resisting the authorities and civil disobedience,” joins the 23 other journalists currently imprisoned in Cuba.

10.08.05 - Journalist sentenced to seven months of "house arrest"

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the Cuban government’s latest attempt to silence an independent journalist after Lamasiel Gutiérrez Romero of the Nueva Prensa Cubana news agency was sentenced yesterday to seven months of "house arrest" for "resisting the authorities and civil disobedience." The charges brought against her were just a way of disguising their political motivation, the organisation said.

For the duration of her sentence, Gutiérrez will be unable to work as an independent journalist and will need special permission from the police every time she wants to leave the western Isle of Youth where she lives. Any breach of these conditions will result in her going to prison. Gutiérrez also fears she may be sent to a state work centre for "reeducation." She intends to hire a lawyer in order to appeal.

09.08.05 - Isle of Youth journalist faces trial on trumped-up charges

Reporters Without Borders voiced deep concern today on learning that independent journalist Lamasiel Gutiérrez Romero of the Nueva Prensa Cubana news agency is to be tried tomorrow for civil disobedience and resisting the authorities before a municipal court in Nueva Gerona, on the western Isle of Youth.

"The Cuban government is once again trying to gag journalists who dare to say the truth about its dictatorial practices," the press freedom organisation said. "After Gutiérrez’s sinister experience on 14 July, no one should be fooled by the trumped-up charge of civil disobedience."

Reporters Without Borders learned about Gutiérrez’s trial when she contacted the organisation today. The charges relate to the events of 14 July, when she was detained arbitrarily for seven hours by three state security agents. She was hit and she offered some resistence when the agents began to photograph and film her and take her fingerprints.

When she refused on 14 July to sign a charge sheet, the police officer who will be the main prosecution witness at her trial, Eliaves Hernández, said: "It does not matter, you will be tried all the same."

While detained, Gutiérrez received a visit from the head of the intelligence services, who told that, as he could not try her for political reasons, he would find any other pretext for bringing her to trial.

When Gutiérrez tried to find a lawyer, the state legal aid lawyer on duty that day told her that, since the main prosecution witness was a member of the National Revolutionary Police, she had no chance of finding a lawyer to defend her and that there would be no point anyway.

Gutiérrez faces a sentence ranging from a fine to one or two years of house arrest. "If I get house arrest, I will not be able to continue my journalistic activities, as my hands will be completely tied," she told Reporters Without Borders.

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