Desde Dentro de Cuba

Distribuído por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

La Habana, July 14, 1998, Cuba Free Press.

Family Accuses Local Police of Beating, Killing Prisoner in Cuba By Orlando Bordón Gálvez, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - Members of the family of Reinery Marrero Toledo, who died in a jail cell in the municipality of San Jose de las Lajas, Havana province, have accused local police of beating him, perhaps to death.

After being held since July 1, Marrero died the evening of July 8, according to agents of the Technical Department of Investigations (DTI).

Raudel Marrero, the deceased man's brother, told this news agency that "the DTI officers told us that Reinery hung himself with a bed sheet but we don't believe it because his body showed signs of bruises and injuries capable of causing his death."

Marrero added that the most significant bruises were on his brother's testicles, abdomen, side of his forehead and his left cheek. Other injuries were found behind his ear and on his head.

Among other reasons why the Marrero Toledo family doubts the stated cause of Reinery's death is that just the previous Tuesday his allotted visit was suspended.

"They told us that my brother had not been behaving but now we think that they were trying to cover up for the physical abuse to which they subjected him," Raudel Marrero said.

Still another fact the family considers suspicious is that half an hour after the alleged suicide, the victim's stepmother, Dolores Facenda, went to the police headquarters asking to speak to the person in charge. No one informed her of the suicide. The news finally came out some five hours after Reinery's death, after the authorities had prepared the body. An autopsy was conducted but results were kept secret, family members said, in spite of the fact that the victim was merely being held under investigation. No charges or allegations against him had been pending.

At the mortuary, Interior Ministry (MININT) agents paid special attention to the family and offered all the flowers that the family requested, an action the family and other observers considered highly unusual in cases where people die under normal circumstances.

Reinery Marrero had no criminal history. His arrest was based on alleged links with neighbors accused of theft of cattle. Some of those neighbors are still in hiding, according to reports here.

Just a month before his arrest, Reinery had had a motorcycle confiscated-a bike which he co-owned with his brother Raudel. And last June 26th, an official investigator known as "Frank" told Reinery, while he was being held at the TDI, that he (Frank) was going to throw him in jail "because it just damn well pleases me..."

This same officer, and instructor Ismael de la Vega, were in charge of Reinery Marrero Toledo's investigation.

Officer Frank, according to testimony of unnamed persons who said they had been detained by the DTI, said he had beaten them during the interrogation process. One charge was that he had at some time been temporarily separated from his job because of his excesses with and mistreatment of certain detainees. They alleged that some of his superiors had not been able to cover his actions with silence.

Marrero's family remembers how just before going to the summons on June 30, he told them: "Frank wants to blackmail me. But I'll never allow him to do that."

Marrero's funeral turned into not only a show of grief by the people but even an act of repudiation of police brutality. His coffin was carried by family and friends and many people accompanied Reinery through the streets of San Antonio de las Vegas.

There was heavy police presence throughout the funeral procession and military officers were observed inside nearby vehicles. Some of the agents filed into a bakery close to the local MININT office.

The farewell speech was short but forceful: "While my brother goes to his grave, his killer is still around in his flaming Honda motorcycle,"said Raudel Marrero, asking for the solidarity of those present. "Rest in peace, brother, since they didn't let you live in peace."

Orlando Bordón Gálvez, Cuba Free Press.

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