Castro may be sued by French

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The Independent Online
A FRENCH lawyer launched legal action against the Cuban President, Fidel Castro, yesterday, accusing him of crimes against humanity, torture, illegal detention and drug trafficking.

Serge Lewisch's case, taking its cue from extradition suits against the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested in Britain in October, must be screened by a judge before an investigation can be opened, judicial sources said.

Mr Lewisch held Mr Castro responsible for the execution by firing squad of a Cuban official, Antonio de la Guardia, in a drug-trafficking scandal that shook the country's Communist government in 1989.

In Havana, the government ridiculed the lawyer, who was acting on behalf of the victim's widow, Ileana. "There are always people ... interested in achieving some sort of notoriety with campaigns of this sort, which are so ridiculous that they don't merit the least commentary from us," said a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Mr Lewisch also charged that the Cuban leader was responsible for crimes against humanity and systematic torture over the allegedly arbitrary detention of a Frenchman and a Cuban. On these counts he was acting on behalf of Pierre Golendorf, 77, a journalist jailed from 1971-1975 for criticising the government in a draft book, and Lazaro Jordana, 41, who was held in 1982-1986, allegedly on political charges.

Mr Castro's daughter Alina Fernandez Reveulta, who has lived in exile in the West since fleeing Cuba in 1993, said she thought her father would be "indifferent" to news of the legal action. In an interview on French radio she said: "The difference with the Pinochet affair is that [Pinochet] left his country... I think Fidel Castro will have learnt the lesson not to go to places where he could be vulnerable."(Reuters)