Cuban court convicts 11 more in Rio Zaza corruption probe involving longtime Castro friend

By Associated Press
HAVANA — A Cuban court has convicted 11 more people in a wide-ranging corruption case that already ensnared a Chilean businessman who’s a longtime friend of Fidel Castro, the businessman’s brother and a Cuban government minister.
An official statement read Thursday on state-run television said the court sentenced members of the new group — a mix of company executives and government functionaries — to between three and five years in jail.
“Those sanctioned took cash bribes and other illegal gifts in return for diverting, or allowing to be diverted, products and raw materials,” the communique said. “They falsified information, altered documents and engaged in other fraudulent activities.”
Among the latest defendants is a former vice food minister, Celio Hernandez. Hernandez’s boss, former Food Minister Alejandro Roca Iglesias, received a 15-year prison sentence in the same case in a verdict announced in May.
The case revolves around the dealings of Rio Zaza, a juice company run by a holding company controlled by the Chilean businessman, Max Marambio, who was convicted in absentia in May and sentenced to 20 years in jail.
His brother, Marcel, was also convicted in absentia last week, and sentenced to 15 years in jail for management of a travel company, Sol y Son.
Details of the case against those convicted Thursday were not announced, nor was it clear if they would appeal.
Before the latest verdicts were announced, 15 people of Cuban nationality had already been convicted in the case and given sentences between three and 10 years.
Since taking over the presidency from his brother in 2008, Raul Castro has led an anti-corruption drive that has seen many top government ministers ousted.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.