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Congresswoman urges DOJ to charge Castro for 1996 killings of US aid workers

[JURIST] Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) [official website] is urging the US Department of Justice to charge resigning Cuban leader Fidel Castro [official profile; BBC profile] with murder for the 1996 killings of four US aid workers, according to Wednesday media reports. In a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Ros-Lehtinen said that prosecution would be possible as Castro will relinquish his immunity as head of state when he steps down from office. In 1996, a Cuban jet fighter shot down two civilian light airplanes [IACHR report] belonging to Miami-based Cuban exile activist group Brothers to the Rescue [advocacy website] over international waters. Three US citizens and one US resident who were searching for Cuban rafters trying to reach the United States died in the attack.

Castro's resignation [text], announced Monday, could prompt other lawsuits against him [JURIST report], most notably in Spanish courts for alleged crimes against humanity. In December, the Spanish Audiencia Nacional dismissed a claim against Castro [JURIST report] and Cuban Minister of Tourism Osmani Cienfuegos for genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and terrorism. It was the third time that the court rejected such a suit against Castro, citing his sovereign immunity as head of state. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

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