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Friday, 25 February, 2000, 08:07 GMT
Dissident arrests reported in Cuba



Reports from Cuba say the government has detained a number of opposition activists on the eve of the trial of a prominent dissident, Oscar Elias Biscet.

Opposition groups say fifteen people have been held by the authorities in the last few days and nine remain in detention.

Mr Biscet faces up to seven years in prison on charges of insulting symbols of the fatherland, public disorder and inciting crime.

Earlier, the human rights organisation, Amnesty International, said Mr Biscet was a prisoner of conscience, and urged the Havana authorities to free him immediately. Two other activists detained at about the same time, Fermin Scull Zulueta and Eduardo Diaz Flietas, are also due to appear in court later today on charges of public disorder.

Correspondents say that government action against dissidents has intensified since an international summit last November, during which they received widespread international attention.

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