Amnesty Was Set To Recognize Late Cuba Dissident

Published January 20, 2012 7:00PM (EST)

HAVANA (AP) — Amnesty International says it was getting ready to recognize a Cuban dissident as a prisoner of conscience before he died on a hunger strike.

Amnesty Caribbean campaign officer James Burke says the rights watchdog was planning to send an urgent action notice Friday morning in the case of Wilman Villar. Villar died Thursday night in a hospital.

Amnesty had not recognized any Cuba inmates as prisoners of conscience since last year, when since the last of 75 government opponents jailed in 2003 were freed.

Island rights observers say Cuban lockups still hold people for political crimes. However the crimes involved violence, keeping them off Amnesty's list.

Villar was arrested Nov. 12 and convicted of disrespecting authority, assault and resisting arrest.

By Salon Staff

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