A total of 13 Cuban citizens were condemnedto different sentences up to 30 years imprisonment as a result of an oral hearing carried out from 5 through 7 on a much-talked-about case of intoxication of about a hundred people who drank methanol that had been stolen from the Pharmacy and Food Institute (IFAL by its acronym in Spanish) of the University of Havana.
According to the Granma newspaper “the penal treatment given to this case reveals the will of the Cuban government and its authorities to preserve the security of its citizens by fighting crime and illegality, which will never go unpunished. However, regrettable events like this one are a lesson for all those who –perhaps unaware of their negligent acts– follow the lead of unscrupulous people that can even sell death”.
This event occurred in July, 2013, and was released by Havana’s Public Health Provincial Direction with a note on the serious intoxication of 46 people –then 99, including 11 casualties– due to the consumption of methanol.
The “drink” was illegally sold in Balcón Arimao, a neighborhood to the east of the capital. It was supplied by Ramón Hernández Argudín, Augusto César Valdés Alonso and Abelardo Santos Rivero, guards at IFAL, who stole 60 liters of methanol from that institution.
As a result, the Ministries of the Interior and Public Health made up a multidisciplinary team of specialists, who were supported by localpolitical and governmental authorities.
At the end of the investigation, an oral hearing was carried out from May 5 through 7, at Havana’s Provincial Popular Court, located at the Special Hall of the Municipal Popular Court in the municipality of 10 de Octubre.
Granma states that, in addition to those with penal sanctions, “considering the obvious lack of control and for not complying with their functions, by hiringas guards in important economic placesthese unfit men who stole that lethal substance” the Ministry of Higher Education decided to remove the dean of the said institution, Juan Abreu Payrol, from university teaching; and Deputy Investments Dean and the Heads of Pharmacy and Security and Protection from their positions.
Methanol is used as reagent in labs and research centers. It is highly toxic for humans and its consumption can cause serious long-term effects like blindness and even death.
The following list comprises the name of the people sanctioned and their respective sentences:
1. Ramón Hernández Argudín (guard at IFAL): For Arm robbery, Homicide by negligence and Serious Injuries (30 years imprisonment)
2. Augusto César Valdés Alonso (guard at IFAL): For Arm robbery, Homicide by negligence and Serious Injuries (27 years imprisonment)
3. Abelardo Santos Rivero (guard at IFAL with minor participation in the theft: (6 years imprisonment).
Hernández Argudín and Valdés Alonso must indemnify the victims for methanol consumption and, along with Santos Rivero, repair the material damage caused to IFAL.
Other people involved in the crime received sentences ranging from four years in jail to serving two years of domiciliary arrest.