Family of young man who died in police custody denounces lack of transparency in the investigation

"They said that my brother hanged himself, but now they say that none of those who were on that shift appear... they say that the guard book does not appear," the brother revealed.

Joelvis Viscay Hernández y cárcel cubana © X / @YamilaHija - Flickr / Creative Commons
Joelvis Viscay Hernández and Cuban prison Foto © X / @YamilaHija - Flickr / Creative Commons

Plunged into despair and uncertainty, the family ofJoelvis Viscay Hernandez -the 28-year-old recently killed in a police station in Guantánamo- denounced lack of transparency in the investigation.

Viscay Hernández, who earned his living as a coachman, was arrested for alleged crimes related to horse meat trafficking and "attacks against the authorities." However, what follows his arrest on November 28 is a mystery plagued by irregularities and lack of transparency on the part of the Cuban authorities.

In statements toMartí News, Roydeinis Viscay, brother of the deceased, recounted a series of events that cast a shadow over the actions of prison officials and prison authorities.Ministerio del Interior (MININT).

According to him, the authorities have not been able to determine who was on duty during the fateful incident at the Police Operations Unit. "They said that my brother hanged himself, but now they say that none of those who were on that shift appear. They have a book that contains all that about who comes on duty, who is on duty, they say that that book does not appear "revealed the brother.

The situation is further aggravated by the confusion over the validity of the document issued by the Operations Unit, which was supposed to be delivered to the Prosecutor's Office. This document, according to the family, lacked official validity, being generated informally and without support from a digital or formal version.

“A paper that they have made themselves, because that was not written by a computer, there was nothing there. The case was like it wasn't there, like nothing had happened. They wrote it by hand there, at the time, and when we got to the Prosecutor's Office with it, the Prosecutor's Office turned it back because there was no official document,” the young man told the aforementioned media.

Roydeinis Viscay's testimony challenges the official version of an alleged suicide, sinceJoelvis's body had no visible hanging marks on his neck., questioning the narrative provided by the Cuban authorities. “He has absolutely nothing, he is intact,” said the victim's brother at the beginning of December.

The lawyerLaritza Diversent, from the platformCubalex of independent legal advice, highlighted the need for a transparent investigation that involves family members. "The authorities show a pattern of not informing the family or allowing their participation in the investigation into the person's death," said the lawyer.

This case adds to a worrying record of deaths in state custody, identified by Cubalex. Between 2022 and 2023, at least 23 people have died in police custody, revealing disturbing patterns about prison conditions and the treatment of prisoners in Cuba.

Any death in custody is illegal. An investigation must be opened, it is not optional”Diversent pointed out toMartí News.

The opacity surrounding this case, where the family was prevented from viewing the body and was denied clear information about the cause of death, has generated a climate of mistrust and concern in the community.

The death of Joelvis Viscay Hernández joins other complaints of alleged irregularities and negligence in the prison system, such as the case of the political prisonerLuis Barrios Díaz, died due to alleged medical negligence after the July 2021 protests.

Barrios' case was added to other complaints of inmates who show evident deterioration in health, among them,Felix Navarro, Jose Daniel Ferrer andLazarus Yuri Valley Rock.

In the case of Viscay Hernández, the authorities informed the family that the young man hanged himself in a cell in the detention center of theState Security which is located at km 1½ of the El Salvador municipality highway. His brother assured that the young man was not a man to hang himself, since he had been imprisoned and "knew the tricks of the police well."

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