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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
US court upholds Cuban spy trial
A poster of five Cubans jailed in the United States
The so-called Cuban Five are considered heroes in Cuba
A US appeals court has upheld the convictions of five men found guilty of spying for the Cuban government.

The judges overturned an earlier ruling which found the group could not have received a fair trial in Miami, where there is a large Cuban exile community.

Cuba says the five were not spying on the US, but on Cuban exiles in Miami who were plotting against Fidel Castro's government.

The country's official newspaper has condemned the judgement as "political".

"The trial of these five combatants was loaded with hatred and vengeance against the Cuban nation," Granma said.

In an apparent reference to the illness of President Castro, it said the ruling came at time when Cuban exiles were plotting how to end a sovereign nation.

'Heroes'

The five men were arrested in 1998. A 2001 trial found them guilty of infiltrating US military bases and Cuban exile groups, and giving the information to Cuba.

Three of the five men were sentenced to life in jail - the others, to 15 and 19 years.

Last year, a three-judge panel from the appeals court in Atlanta overturned the convictions, arguing they had not received a fair trial because people in Miami are biased against Cuba.

But the full appeals court has now ruled a retrial would not be justified.

In Cuba, the five - Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez and Ramon Labanino - are seen heroes who tried to save the country from attack by exiles.

Washington and Havana severed diplomatic ties in 1961, two years after Fidel Castro took power.

Mr Castro - currently the world's longest-serving political leader - has temporarily ceded power to his brother, Raul, for health reasons.

Since the news of Mr Castro's ill-health emerged last week, Cuban exiles in Miami have been celebrating what they see as the beginning of the end of the communist government.




SEE ALSO
Havana hails US Cuban spy retrial
10 Aug 05 |  Americas
Cuban spies trial in US 'biased'
10 Aug 05 |  Americas
Country profile: Cuba
20 Jul 05 |  Country profiles

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