Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cuban Dissidents Push for Death Probe

Cuban dissidents are calling for an international forensic investigation into the recent death of fellow dissident Juan Wilfredo Soto, who they say died after being arrested and beaten by police.

The dissidents issued the call Tuesday, two days after Soto died at the age of 46. They say Soto died in a hospital in the central Cuban city of Santa Clara, where he was taken following the altercation with police in a park last Thursday.

Cuba's government has denied that Soto was beaten. It says he died of natural causes. The dissidents have acknowledged that Soto had health problems, but they have accused the government of lying about the cause of his death.

Fifteen months ago, imprisoned dissident Orlando Zapata died following a nearly three-month hunger strike to protest Cuban prison conditions. Zapata's mother blamed Cuban authorities for his death.

Separately, the human rights group Amnesty International has called on Cuba to immediately open an independent and impartial investigation into Soto's death. Amnesty says that if Soto ultimately died as a result of a police beating in the park, those responsible must face justice

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