Cuban opposition says police killed dissident

Sun May 8, 2011 12:20pm EDT
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By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) - A Cuban dissident died on Saturday after he was beaten by police following a protest last week in the city of Santa Clara, fellow government opponents charged on Sunday.

They said former political prisoner Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia, 46, was taken to a hospital following the incident on Thursday and never recovered.

The government has not yet confirmed or denied the report.

Soto was a member of a little known opposition group in Santa Clara and had served 12 years behind bars as a political prisoner, prominent opposition blogger Yoani Sanchez said in a message on Twitter.

He was said to have had a heart problem and other health issues, but Elizardo Sanchez of the independent Cuban Commission of Human Rights said the beating provoked his death.

"There is no question that there is a relation between cause and effect, between the beating he received on Thursday at the hands of the police and his death," Sanchez told Reuters.

Soto was to be buried on Sunday afternoon in Santa Clara, where local dissidents reported a heavy presence of security forces, Yoani Sanchez said on Twitter.

Elizardo Sanchez demanded that there be an open investigation of the case and said police were becoming increasingly brutal in their handling of dissent.   Continued...