Cuban dissident buried amid controversy

Sun May 8, 2011 8:55pm EDT
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By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban dissident Juan Wilfredo Soto was buried Sunday amid opposition charges a police beating last week led to his death.

Some 80 people attended Soto's funeral in the city of Santa Clara, including a number of prominent dissidents, according to witnesses at the scene. No incidents were reported.

Soto, 46, was beaten and detained by police during a protest Thursday in Santa Clara, according to prominent opposition blogger Yoani Sanches and other dissidents.

Soto, who suffered from diabetes, hypertension and other health problems, was quickly released but then checked into the Arnaldo Milian Hospital where he died early Sunday morning.

The government has not commented on Soto's death.

Various bloggers close to the government quoted Dr. Ruben Aneiro Medina of the hospital as saying Soto died of pancreatitis and kidney failure and there were no signs of physical violence.

Soto was a member of a little-known opposition group in Santa Clara, 275 kilometers (171 miles) east of Havana, and had served 12 years behind bars as a political prisoner.

Elizardo Sanchez of the independent Cuban Commission of Human Rights said the police beating caused his death.   Continued...