HAVANA – For the second time this month, the Cuban Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of a Salvadoran man convicted of plotting a series of Havana hotel bombings in 1997, leaving just one person left on the island's death row.
Otto Rene Rodriguez Llerena's sentence was reduced to 30 years in prison, according to a story posted late Monday on the state-run Cubadebate Web site.
The court last week commuted the death sentence of another Salvadoran man convicted in the case, Ernesto Cruz Leon, giving him 30 years in prison as well.
Both men admitted guilt in the bombings, which killed an Italian tourist and wounded 11 other people including seven foreigners. They were convicted in 1999.
The plot was allegedly organized and financed by Cuban-Venezuelan Luis Posada Carriles — a former CIA operative and one of Cuba's most-wanted men, who is also accused in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner and in a series of attempts to assassinate former Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Posada Carriles acknowledged involvement in the hotel bombings, but later retracted the admission and denied playing any role. He was awaiting a Venezuelan trial over the airliner attack when he escaped from jail and fled the country. Today he lives in the United States, where he faces charges of lying to federal authorities in his 2005 bid to become a U.S. citizen.
While capital punishment is allowed under Cuba's constitution, President Raul Castro announced in 2008 that nearly all death sentences would be commuted, and the rest — a handful of capital cases involving terrorism — would be reviewed.
The only prisoner remaining on death row is Cuban-American Humberto Eladio Real, a member of an anti-Fidel Castro group who was convicted of killing a policeman in 1994.