By Manuel Alberto Ramy
While I coordinated chores with some colleagues to keep up to date on the opening of the Communist Party Congress, I received the news, later confirmed, that the Supreme Court was studying the appeal filed by Alan Gross' attorneys.
The rumor, once confirmed, started me thinking: Should I continue writing about the Congress or should I spend some time on the Gross case? I chose the first. Now I pen a few lines about the news concerning this American, sentenced to 15 years in prison for violating national laws.
It is confirmed that the cassation appeal is already being considered by the appropriate judges, said Rubén Ferro, president of the Supreme Court. To consider is not to accept, but why not harbor some hopes?
I suggest to our interested readers that they go to the Progreso Semanal/Weekly article written by Jesús Arboleya titled "Alan Gross' defense," published last March 24. Am I giving publicity to a regular contributor to this publication? No. That article certainly contains elements that undoubtedly bolster the recourse being analyzed.
According to Arboleya, Gross' defense:
• Questioned the definition of the crime presented by the prosecution, arguing the inappropriateness of trying it under Article 91, due to its general character.
• It also questioned the legal relevance of some evidence submitted by the prosecutors, such as the information contained on the flash-memory sticks taken from the defendant.
Indeed, the cassation appeals involve questioning the procedures and pertinence of data during a trial. The defense has looked for angles from which it can try to reduce the damage to the interests of his client. If Gross had been tried under Law 89 – which the defense says would have been the appropriate law (presumably leading to a lesser penalty) – and if some of the evidence (the flash-memory sticks) were disallowed, the sentence could be reduced.
This much we can speculate: a reduction of penalty would facilitate the grant, in due course, of the humanitarian pardon requested by President Jimmy Carter during his recent visit to Cuba. At that time, Carter asked for gestures of that nature from the presidents of Cuba and the United States, a country where five Cubans have been imprisoned for the past 12 years.
Carter did not talk about prisoner exchanges but about presidential prerogatives under the existing laws in each country. Let us wait for the outcome of this appeal.