by George Whitten, Worthy News International Correspondent
HAVANA, CUBA (Worthy News)-- Cuba has released and dropped all charges of "threatening behavior" against a well-known church after his accusers gave contradictory evidence against him, a Christian human rights organization said Monday, 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 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 1-year prison sentence, but following the contradictory evidence given by his accusers, the Rodriguez family believes the tribunal had no choice but to find him not guilty. However, the court handed down a fine to the church leader for reasons that are unclear, according to CSW.
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 are 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. Meanwhile, his family has suffered verbal and physical abuse from their neighbors, apparently acting with the support of the government, and their house has been 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.
CWS calls on the Cuban government to make restitution to the family for the damages caused to their house by their now discredited accusers, as well as being allowed to return to their home with the guarantees of full protection as is their right as citizens of Cuba.