R2bn judgment against Cuba

MIAMI - A jury in Miami has awarded nearly R2 billion to the children of one of Fidel Castro's former friends who died in a Cuban jail - a judgment that was seen more as a political statement against Cuba's communist government than a windfall.

MIAMI - A jury in Miami has awarded nearly R2 billion to the children of one of Fidel Castro's former friends who died in a Cuban jail - a judgment that was seen more as a political statement against Cuba's communist government than a windfall.

The son and daughter of Rafael del Pino Siero sued the Cuban government in 2005 for jailing, torturing and killing their father, who was a US citizen.

After a trial the Miami jury rendered a judgment on Friday that turned out to be five times more than the family was seeking.

It also appears to be the largest award to date in a wrongful death claim filed against Cuba in Miami. Cuba's government was served with court papers but chose not to be represented in court.

Del Pino was among Castro's friends at the University of Havana but the two had a fall-out over his suspicions that Castro was a communist.

Del Pino, who became a US citizen and lived in Miami, flew back to the island in July 1959 on a rescue mission to smuggle out an anti-Castro activist, but was captured and sentenced to 30 years in a Cuban prison.

He died in his prison cell in 1977 at age 51. - Sapa-AP

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