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128 Cuban Protesters Given Sentences of 6 to 30 Years

FILE - María Carla Milan Ramos shows a photo on her mobile phone of her husband with his siblings, who are all in prison accused of participating in the recent protests against the government, at their home in La Guinera neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, Jan.

A group of 128 Cubans who took part in unprecedented anti-government protests last July were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 30 years, the Supreme Court said Wednesday.

In trials held in mid-December, 129 Cubans were "accused of committing and provoking serious disturbances and acts of vandalism" while participating in the protests, the court said in a statement.

Of the defendants, 128 were found guilty of sedition and theft, according to the statement. Two were sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The court did not give the ages of those convicted. It said the protesters overturned vehicles and threw stones, bottles and Molotov cocktails at police and Interior Ministry agents.

Thousands of Cubans demonstrated in numerous towns and cities across the island nation demanding "freedom" as the country reeled from its worst economic crisis for almost 30 years.

The response by security forces left one dead, dozens injured and more than 1,300 people detained.

In late January, authorities admitted that more than 700 people had been charged and 172 already convicted over the protests.

On March 10, 12 of the protesters were sentenced to between five and 16 years in prison, convicted of sabotage, public disorder and theft.

In addition to the pair jailed for 30 years according to the court statement, another 125 people were sentenced to between six and 26 years in prison, while one defendant received four years of correctional work without internment, and one was acquitted. They are allowed to appeal their sentences.

Miami-based NGO Cubalex has criticized the long sentences imposed on protesters and claims they have been denied their right to a fair trial.