No Progress with Investigation into Attack on Cuban Pastor
Local officials in Moa, Cuba have told the family of a Cuban pastor who was violently attacked and left for dead in early February that they have no suspects in the case, reports Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service.
According to a story from human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Pastor Reutilio Columbie, 41, continues to suffer from dizziness, intense nausea and vomiting.
Columbie, pastor of the Shalom Christian Center, a Pentecostal church in Moa, Cuba, was attacked by unknown individuals in the early hours of Feb. 6, and left unconscious on the street.
CSW said the pastor was on his way to file a complaint with regional authorities regarding the confiscation of the church vehicle by local officials in late 2011. The only thing taken from him was the document proving Columbie's legal ownership of the vehicle.
Columbie told CSW last week that the attack has left him incapacitated, with memory and speech difficulties, near constant dizziness and nausea. As a result, he is unable to preach at his church or travel outside of Moa. He has been advised to seek a consultation with a neurologist in Havana, but is physically unable to make the 923 km trip.
CSW reported while Columbie reported receiving a lot of support from the community, he said the local authorities remain intransigent on both the investigation into the attack and the confiscation of the church vehicle.
He maintains that his purchase and ownership of the vehicle was legal, but is worried that with the disappearance of the key document this would now be virtually impossible to prove.
CSW said local sources have expressed serious doubts about the impartiality of the investigation into the attack on Columbie, telling CSW that in order to conduct a credible investigation, the authorities would have to look beyond the civilian population to their own ranks.
CSW said Columbie and his family expressed gratitude for the support for the pastor in and outside of Cuba despite their disappointment with the authorities. “We don't understand why any of this has happened. Everything we did was legal.”
CSW's Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said in a news release, “CSW continues to call for a thorough investigation into the attack on Pastor Columbie and the return of the church's vehicle. If local authorities are unwilling or unable to fulfill their obligations, the regional or central government must ensure that those who attacked Pastor Columbie are brought to justice.”
He added, “We would also like to see the authorities address the larger legal situation which helped lead to this crime against Pastor Columbie, and remove authority over all religious activities and property from the Office of Religious Affairs of the Communist Party. Religious activities and property should be regulated through the regular channels with proper recourse for appeal.”
Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.