Cuban Bishops Condemn Summary Execution of 3 Hijackers

Deaths Coincide With Recent Crackdown on Dissidents

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HAVANA, APRIL 14, 2003 ( Cuban bishops assailed the summary execution of three people who had seized a ferry in an attempt to flee the island nation.

Learning that «after a most summary judicial prosecution three assailants were executed who seized a passenger transport vessel, we, the bishops of Cuba, in complete concurrence with the magisterium of Pope John Paul II, express once again our rejection of the death penalty,» the brief message stated.

The Cuban government sent the three hijackers to a firing squad, quickly executing them in a chilling message to anyone else who tries to commandeer a boat or plane to the United States, the Associated Press reported. The executions Friday followed a series of hijacking attempts, but also coincided with an islandwide crackdown on dissidents, AP said.

The bishops in their statement said: «No one has the right to endanger the life of other people, as the assailants did, but in the same way, no one should decide that death be inflicted on other people as a remedy for their criminal actions, especially when this is done in a most summary prosecution.

«Violence is not eliminated by violence. It is necessary to eradicate the cause of it, and this is not achieved by the application of the death penalty.»

The bishops also expressed their preoccupation over the wave of repression unleashed by the government three weeks ago.

Of grave concern is the occurrence of «violent events in our country in recent times, also the sentences of long years of imprisonment of numerous political opponents,» they stressed.

«Only by fostering the development of a culture of life, which implies the strengthening of human values and of all that promotes a person’s dignity for healthy coexistence, can these social tensions be surmounted,» the document concluded.

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