Ivan Pilip and Jan Bubenik free

06-02-2001

After more than three weeks spent in a Cuban jail, Czech MP Ivan Pilip and former student leader Jan Bubenik were finally released on Monday night. The two were detained in Cuba on January 12th after meeting with dissidents opposed to Fidel Castro's regime. Dita Asieduova has this report:

Jan Bubenik and Ivan PilipJan Bubenik and Ivan Pilip On Monday morning, the future looked bleak for Ivan Pilip and Jan Bubenik. Petr Pithart, the Chairman of the Czech Senate had returned to Prague empty-handed after a six-hour meeting with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The situation seemed deadlocked, as Mr Castro demanded that the Czech government apologise for the actions of the two men, which the Czech authorities refused to do, as they said that Mr Pilip and Mr Bubenik were in Cuba on private, and not official, business.

A few hours later, however, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which links 140 parliaments around the world, stated that the release of the two men could be expected within a few days. On Monday night, Ivan Pilip and Jan Bubenik were indeed set free and allowed to return home. This sudden turnaround was apparently caused by a confession the two men signed at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, in which they admitted to unintentionally breaking Cuban law by meeting dissidents, and apologised to the Cuban people. I spoke to Vlasta Stepova of the Czech Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, and asked her for her reaction to the surprising development: