BY NANCY SAN MARTIN
The State Department said Tuesday it would not accept a ‘‘ridiculous and perplexing decision’’ made by a United Nations panel last week, which ruled that the detention of five Cuban spies convicted in Miami was arbitrary and in violation of international law.
A senior official told The Herald the ruling was a ‘‘politically motivated’’ maneuver orchestrated by the Cuban government and added that other efforts within the U.N. to take up the case had been rejected.
`NOT LETTING THIS GO’
A U.S. response to the panel’s ruling is under way.
‘‘We have a number of ideas on how to respond,’’ said the official, who cannot be named due to department policy but was speaking officially for the U.S. government. “We’re not letting this go.’‘
The judgment came from the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, one of several sections within the Geneva-based U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The group found that the five Cubans, convicted in Miami federal court in 2001, were denied full access to evidence and to their lawyers.
The panel also urged the U.S. government to ‘‘adopt the necessary steps to remedy the situation,’’ The Associated Press reported.
‘‘The defendants in this case were tried in federal court and convicted for being covert agents,’’ the state department official said. ‘‘They’ve never denied being covert agents. It’s outrageous.’’ The official said the ruling calls into question the work of the U.N. panel, citing provisions that stipulate that the group is supposed to provide a platform for individual complaints “not for states to use to go after other states. It’s a complete perversion of the process.’‘
According to the U.N. website: “The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is the only nontreaty-based mechanism whose mandate expressly provides for consideration of individual complaints.’‘
Established in 1991, the panel includes five members, currently from Algeria, Spain, Iran, Hungary and Paraguay.
The five convicted Cubans—Geraldo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Fernando González and Rene González—were arrested in September 1998 and are serving sentences ranging from 15 years to life.