By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter, Tribune 242 (Bahamas)
THE CUBAN military officer being held at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre has been classified as a refugee by the United Nations, according to legal counsel for the detainee yesterday.
Lawyer David Alvarez confirmed to The Tribune that he is also in talks with a US federal agency, which has requested the approval of the Bahamas government to interview his client Mayor (Major) Ortelio Abrahantes.
After more than five months at the detention centre, Mr Alvarez said his client was optimistic for a possible resolution to the “political tug of war” over his life.
“It has been very frustrating,” he said, “it seems like he’s in a political tug-of-war, and he’s caught in the cross fire of what I’m trying to do, which is save his life, and the Cuban officials. He has a lot of information, sensitive information that may be of interest.” Mr Alvarez said: “the Bahamian government is in the middle of this, I know they have a relationship with both American and Cuban officials.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell said yesterday that he had “no comment on the matter.”
Mr Abrahantes is said to be an officer of Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior, who has defected with sensitive information involving operations conducted by the Cuban government.
According to reports, Mr Abrahantes was taken to the Bahamas on March 27 after a sail boat he was aboard was intercepted by the US Coast Guard.
Requests for assistance from the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) have been successful, according to Mr Alvarez, who said the agency has submitted their recommendations to the Bahamas government.
“(UNHCR) said my client classifies as a refugee and should not be sent back to Cuba for his own safety and in compliance with international law. They are also going to start asylum proceedings.”
Calls placed to UNHCR representative for the Bahamas, Katie Tobin, were not returned up to press time.
Feature continues here: Major Abrahantes