The captains of the four Cuban fishing boats seized by the United States Coast Guard seventeen days ago went on trial today in Key West, Florida.
LS Monroe County Court House
CU Monroe County Court House
MS Cubans and Sheriff marching
Sheriffs walking into building
MS Woman being searched by Deputy Sheriff
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Background: The captains of the four Cuban fishing boats seized by the United States Coast Guard seventeen days ago went on trial today in Key West, Florida. They have been accused of fishing in Florida waters without a license. Their seizure by the Coast Guard prompted Premier Fidel Castro to cut off the water supplies to the Guantanamo Naval Base earlier this month.
Yesterday (February 18) the four captains and their twenty-five crewmen appeared at the courthouse in Key West. They waived trial by jury. The lawyer for the twenty-nine Cubans asked for a quick dismissal of the charges. He argued that the Florida law had usurped functions belonging the Federal government and was therefore unconstitutional. The motion was denied and the trial ordered to proceed today.
Strick security measures were in force at the Key West courthouse. Florida police searched everyone entering the courtroom. Sheriff Henry Haskin said he was determined that--in his works-- "we are not going to have anther Texas." Two weeks ago, Cuban refugees in Key West staged an anti-Castro demonstration but there have been no incidents since then.