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Czech Republic: Cuba Releases Czechs After Confessions

Havana, 6 February 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Two prominent Czechs today were freed from a Cuban jail after they admitted to breaking Cuban laws by meeting with dissidents. Czech parliamentarian Ivan Pilip and former student leader Jan Bubenik had been imprisoned in Cuba since January 12 and were facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted on charges of acting against Cuba's security. The two men were freed after signing a declaration admitting their guilt. The signing took place in the presence of mediators Anders Johnson and Juan Pablo Letelier, who are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international group that observes parliamentarian rights. Afterwards, the two Czechs immediately left for the airport, where they boarded a flight to Prague via Madrid.

Mexico's commercial attache, Marco Antonio Loustaunau, said Pilip and Bubenik had signed a statement admitting "the error of not knowing Cuban law and of violating Cuban law."

ds Cuba's President Fidel Castro had demanded Czech authorities apologize for the actions of Pilip and Bubenik. But Czech authorities had refused, saying they were not responsible for the incident.