Cuban Exile Group Says Milosevic Arrest Sends Message To Castro

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:09 PM EDT

( - The Cuban American National Foundation Wednesday congratulated the Yugoslavian government for arresting its former president, Slobodan Milosevic, saying Cuban leader Fidel Castro should learn from Milosevic's experience.

"Milosevic's arrest sends an important message to tyrants everywhere: You can no longer commit gross human rights abuses and hide behind the outdated doctrine of executive privilege," CANF Executive Vice President Dennis Hays said in a statement.

"There is an emerging international consensus that dictators can and should be held accountable for their crimes," said Hays in a pointed reference to Castro.

In the case of Cuba, Hays noted, "It is a forgone conclusion that in a democratic Cuba, Fidel Castro would be brought before the courts to answer for his crimes. This is one reason why Castro denies the Cuban people any free voice in their government."

Hays believes the international community should "bring Castro to account for his direct involvement in crimes against the citizens of other nations, such as his admitted culpability in the premeditated murder of four individuals in the shoot down of the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft."

Four Cuban exiles died on Feb. 24, 1996, when Cuban MIGs fired on planes belonging to the Brothers to the Rescue, a Miami-based Cuban exile group. The brothers contend they were in international airspace over the Florida Straits.

CANF also congratulated the United States government and the international community for exerting "positive pressure" on Yugoslavia to undertake Milosevic's arrest.

"The targeted use of economic sanctions clearly helped bring about this important development. We call upon the international community to continue to press Yugoslavia
to take the next step, Milosevic's extradition to The Hague to answer for his many crimes," Hays said.

Milosevic continues to be held in Belgrade's Central Prison. He lost his appeal to be released on Tuesday.

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said Tuesday he has ruled out any early extradition to The Hague.

"The Hague court is not on my mind at all. We are not thinking about extradition now," Kostunica said. He also said Yugoslavia was ready to cooperate with The Hague tribunal but that Milosevic must answer primarily to his own people.

The Hague tribunal has indicted Milosevic over crimes he allegedly committed during the Kosovo conflict.