The family of Reverend Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, a Cuban Protestant pastor who has been detained without trial since July, was informed on 3 December that his trial will take place on 7, 8 or 9 December. The family has been informed that the government is seeking to impose a 10-year prison sentence.
The authorities initially indicated on 3 December that the trial would be held on 8 December, however, later the same day they communicated that it could take place anytime over the three-day period from 7 to 9 December. The family was not told where the pastor’s trial will take place, but trials of other individuals detained in relation to the 11 July protests have been conducted in the prisons where they were held, making monitoring the processes impossible.
Reverend Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, leader of the Monte de Sion Independent Church in Palma Soriano, Cuba, was detained by State Security officers on 11 July while he participated in peaceful protests which took place across the island. He has been charged with a series of crimes including ‘disrespect’, ‘assault’, and ‘public disorder’. While in prison he has been subjected to violence and inhumane and degrading treatment.
Although the pretext for his arrest was his participation in the peaceful protests, it is believed that the pastor’s continued detention and the trumped-up charges against him are part of a long campaign targeting him and his ministry. In 2009, his church and home in Palma Soriano were arbitrarily confiscated by the government. The State Security agent who was responsible for the property confiscation, Luis Noel Plutin Rodríguez, is now a high-level official in Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior and led the efforts to charge and imprison Reverend Rosales Fajardo.
Reverend Rosales Fajardo was initially held for over a month in Versalles, a notorious State Security facility in the city of Santiago, before being transferred in August to Boniato Maximum Security Prison, where he is currently imprisoned.
Maridilegnis Carballo, Pastor Rosales Fajardo’s wife, told CSW: “The situation that my husband has endured in that prison for more than five months, the poor diet, the constant beatings and the effects on his health that these have had; all of these and this time of mistreatment are ruining his health and threaten his life. We demand his freedom, and we ask for the help of the international community. The trials are all a militarized show. This is why I am also requesting that the community of faith support us in prayer. God has the final word.”
CSW’s Head of Advocacy Anna Lee Stangl said: “We are deeply concerned that the Cuban government intends to proceed with subjecting Reverend Rosales Fajardo to a trial on these trumped-up charges. The fact that his lawyer and his family have been given such short notice and so little information about the trial demonstrates the lack of good faith in which the government has acted since the pastor’s detention in July. We reiterate our support for Pastor Rosales Fajardo and our call for his immediate release, and we urge the international community to hold the Cuban government to account for its continued violations of freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief”.
It is important to note that CSW is a Religious Rights Advocacy group