A 17-year-old girl was sentenced to eight months in prison in one of the summary trials that took place on the island after recent anti-government protests, according to reports from her mother and a legal aid center.
According to reports, Gabriela Zequeira received her prison sentence on Thursday (22) after being tried for about six hours for “public disorder” along with 11 other defendants, said her mother Yoanis Hernández, who testified at the trial.
She added that she does not know where her daughter was transferred after the trial, which in her opinion was held without providing evidence that Zequeira participated in the July 11 demonstrations, the largest in Cuba in decades.
“When the trial was over, they let me see her for three minutes. The only thing I could do was hug her and kiss her, that’s all,” Hernández told BBC News Mundo, the BBC’s Spanish service.
“She told me, ‘Mom, stand firm, nothing’s going to happen to me, but I’m going to appeal.’ She knows she didn’t do anything,” she continued.
Cubalex, an independent group of Cuban lawyers that monitors the island’s arrests and summary trials for the protests, confirmed that Zequeira was convicted by a court.
The BBC was unable to obtain information about the case from the Cuban government until this report was published.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez denied on Thursday that there are minors arrested or missing in the country, and assured that “all Cuban legal guarantees” will be fulfilled for those who remain in detention.
The recent wave of arrests and summary trials in Cuba has been criticized by different governments and international organizations.
The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday (23) that it had documented the arrest or disappearance of at least 757 people as a result of the protests, 13 of them minors.
Hernández said his daughter, an accounting student, was arrested in Havana’s San Miguel del Padrón, while going to the hairdresser, saw a demonstration from a distance and decided to return, according to the minor’s testimony at her own trial.
She specified that Zequeira was arrested by “black wasps”, as members of the Cuban government’s Special National Brigade, which this week was sanctioned by the United States for “repressing” protesters, are known in Cuba.
“One grabbed her arm, the other by her neck, they pulled her by the hair and put her inside the truck,” Hernández said. She added that since then she hasn’t been able to see or speak to her daughter until Thursday’s trial about which was only reported on Tuesday night.
The mother also said that within hours she had a lawyer for her daughter, but that some of the defendants who were tried together with Zequeira in the Diez de Octubre Court had no legal representatives.
Hernández recalled that, in addition to her daughter, another 17-year-old teenager was tried and sentenced to one year in prison “for registering” the protests.
UNICEF, contacted days ago by BBC News Mundo about the arrests of minors during the protests in Cuba, indicated that it is “difficult to quantify the exact number of children detained”.
“Cuban criminal law establishes that only those over 16 are attributable and recognizes differential treatment for perpetrators of criminal acts between the ages of 18 and 20,” the statement said.
Hernández demanded that his daughter be released because “a tremendous injustice was done” against her.
“I’m devastated, a piece of me was taken from me,” she said. “I don’t sleep, I don’t eat, thinking about her: what is she doing? What are they doing to her?”