By George Whitten, BosNewsLife Senior International Correspondent

HAVANA, CUBA (BosNewsLife)– Cuba has released a well-known church leader -and dropped all charges of “threatening behavior” against him, after his accusers gave contradictory evidence, an international Christian rights group said Tuesday, September 7.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said Reverend Robert Rodriguez was freed and is now recuperating at home after being found not guilty.

He was reportedly arrested last Monday, August 30, and taken to a town in central Cuba where he stood trial.

Prosecutors recommended that Reverend Rodriguez be given a one-year prison sentence, but following “contradictory evidence” given by his accusers, the tribunal had no choice but to find him not guilty, his family said in a statement. However, the court handed down a fine to the church leader for reasons that are unclear, CSW added.

Rodriguez, the former national president of the Interdenominational Fellowship of Evangelical Pastors and Ministers (CIMPEC), became a government target when he led his organization to withdraw publicly from a government sanctioned religious umbrella group in the second half of 2008.

CIMPEC formally withdrew from the Cuban Council of Churches, citing constant government interference in their internal affairs.


Christians said the criminal charges against Rodriguez were an attempt to discredit and silence him. Cuban officials had no comment.

Charges were first brought against Reverend Rodriguez in late 2008 but no trial date materialized, and he has spent the last 21 months under house arrest, his family and trial observers said. His family also suffered “verbal and physical abuse” from their neighbors, apparently acting with support of the government, and their house as their was vandalized, CSW explained.

“CSW welcomes the news that Reverend Rodriguez was found not guilty of the charges against him,” said CSW Chief Executive Mervvn Thomas. However, he added that his group now demands that Cuba’s government compensates the family for damages caused to their house by their “now discredited accusers” and to live in their home “with guarantees of full protection as is their right as citizens of Cuba.”

Cubas has come under international pressure to allow more religous and political rights.  In July, Cuba agreed to release the remaining 52 of 75 dissidents, including devoted Christians, who were arrested in a a March 2003 crackdown and held in its jails.

Communist leader Fidel Castro led the one-party state for nearly 50 years; his brother Raul took over as leader in 2008.


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