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Cuban accused face trial

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Cuban Dissidents Accused of Subversive Activities Face Trial
VOA News
02 Apr 2003, 22:20 UTC

Cuban pro-democracy activists say more than 70 political dissidents are going on trial in Havana Thursday on charges of conspiring against President Fidel Castro's government. They also say the defendants face sentences ranging from 15 years to life in prison if convicted.

Cuba began cracking down on the dissidents last month, saying they were linked to what it called "subversive activities" by the head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, James Cason. Mr. Cason has angered the Cuban government by meeting with dissident groups to promote democracy on the communist-run island.

The United States has denounced the roundups as an appalling act of intimidation and demanded that the dissidents be released immediately. Nobel Peace Prize winner and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter also has condemned the crackdown, as have international human rights organizations, the European Union and the Roman Catholic Church.

European diplomats say Cuba's actions could harm its chances of joining the Cotonou Agreement, an E.U. economic assistance pact for developing countries.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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