A Cuban Evangelical Pastor has been denied the right to appeal his six-year prison sentence by the Supreme Tribunal in Havana.
Pastor Omar Gude Perez, a leader in a fast growing network of independent churches called the ‘Apostolic Reformation’, was convicted of “falsification of documents” after trumped up charges were made against him during a summary trial last July.
In a statement to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) Pastor Gude Perez’s wife said the court’s decision confirmed her belief that her husband’s arrest and imprisonment in May 2008 was orchestrated at the highest levels of government.
Pastor Gude Perez was initially charged with Human Trafficking, but a local court threw out the charges ten months later, citing a total lack of evidence. The latest charge was brought against him a full year after his initial detention. The prosecution’s petition also accused the pastor of “counter-revolutionary conduct and attitudes.”
Another key pastor in the Apostolic Reformation network is currently contesting government efforts to evict him from his home and confiscate his property. Pastor Mario Alvarez has appealed to the Supreme Tribunal to prevent what he believes is the illegal confiscation of his home. At least thirty other church leaders from the same network were arrested and detained in various parts of the country during 2009, and several report that the authorities were threatening to confiscate their homes.
Mervyn Thomas, CSW’s Chief Executive said: “We are extremely disappointed to learn of the Supreme Tribunal’s decision to refuse Pastor Gude Perez’s right of appeal. The number of church leaders arrested recently clearly indicates a government policy to crack down on this independent religious group. We urgently call for the immediate release of Pastor Perez and strongly urge the Cuban government to stop legal harassment of the leadership of the Apostolic Reformation.”
Cuba - imprisoned pastor's appeal for freedom is denied
Saturday, 30 January 2010, 11:41 (EST)