14ymedio, Havana, 21 September 2017 — Economist Karina Gálvez Chiu was sentenced Thursday by the Municipal Court of the city of Pinar del Rio to three years of deprivation of liberty and the confiscation of her home for the crime of tax evasion, a member of the Center for Coexistence Studies (CEC) confirmed 14ymedio. A court decision that she ensures did not surprise her and that she expected.
“Although after the trial, which was clearly won by the defense lawyers, we had hoped that the penalty would decrease somewhat with respect to the prosecutor’s request,” explained the economist.
Finally, “the court accepted the requests for sanctions proposed by the prosecution,” the CEC said in a statement. This does not mean, however, that the economist must go to prison, since the sentence contemplates that the sentence of deprivation of freedom can be substituted by three years of house arrest.
The trial against Gálvez began on January 11 when she was detained for a week at the province’s Technical Department of Criminal Investigation and her house was sealed.
Karina Gálvez’s house was also the headquarters of the Center for Coexistence studies (CEC) and with its seizure the independent project lost its meeting place for the second time. In 2009, the yard of the home of Galvez’s parents, where their members met, was also confiscated and closed.
The property is now at the disposition of the Municipal Housing Department, subordinate to the Council of the Administration of the Municipality of Pinar del Río.
The court ruling says that the conviction seeks to “make the defendant understand” the seriousness of the crime and also “serve to educate the people in general.”
In addition, Gálvez has been banned from exercising the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in electoral processes, as well as losing “the right to hold management positions in the organs corresponding to the political-administrative activity of the State.”
She is also prohibited “from being issued a passport and leaving from the national territory until the penalties imposed have been completed,” says the document that the court sent to her on Thursday through her defense lawyer.
The sentence states that this type of punishment is applied individually and in “its type and extent” is for the purpose of “repressing, re-educating and preventing the commission of new offenses.”
As of this Thursday Gálvez has ten days to appeal. After that time the sentence will be signed against her and she must wait for the appointment with an implementation judge.
“I still have not decided if I’m going to appeal, I’m thinking about it,” says the economist. “The person who presided over my trial is the president of the Provincial Court, so I would have to appeal to a judge who is subordinate to him,” and that “would be a formality.”
Gálvez has denounced, in recent months, an escalation of pressure by the authorities, which includes numerous interrogations in the provincial Immigration and Aliens Department, where they inquired about the motivations of her trips off the island.
Other members of the CEC have been summoned by the police and have received warnings, including the director of the publication, Dagoberto Valdés, who was told by an official last October that from that moment on his life will be “very difficult.”
The CEC organizes training courses for citizens and civil society and, in a recent public statement, its members assured that they will not leave Cuba or the Church and that they will continue to “work for the country.”
CEC sent out several tweets about Karina Gálvez's plight and the following contained a copy of the legal decision and said that Karina Galvez, from the Center for Coexistence Studies sentenced to three years prison and the confiscation of her home, that had been the headquarters of CEC.
Sentenciada #Karina Galvez, del CentroEstudios #Convivencia a 3 años de privación de libertad y confiscación de su casa sede de Convivencia pic.twitter.com/lqlchzf0Mo— Centro Convivencia (@CEConvivencia) September 21, 2017