Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cuban boxers applied for visa at German consulate in Brazi

Cuban boxers applied for visa at German consulate in Brazil
The Associated Press
Published: August 13, 2007

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil: Two Cuban boxers, who abandoned their national
team at the Pan Americans Games last month, applied for visas to enter
Germany before they were found and deported back to Cuba, the German
consulate said Monday.

A functionary at the German consulate who declined to be identified read
a note saying that the two boxers applied for visas but did not have any
type of interview or legal consultation.

The functionary said the press officer was on vacation and no one was
available who could comment further on the case.

Two-time defending Olympic bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux
and 2005 welterweight amateur world champion Erislandy Lara left the
athletes' village July 22 and failed to appear for their weigh-ins.

They were arrested 11 days later for overstaying their visas and sent
back to Cuba.

At the time of their arrest, police said the boxer asked to be sent back
to Cuba and declined legal representation offered by the German boxing
promoters who said they had signed the pair to five-year contracts.

On Friday, New York-based Human Rights Watch expressed their concern
that Brazil did not safeguard the boxers' legal protections as refugees
when they were sent back to Cuba.

"We urge you to investigate whether their rights were adequately
protected while they were in Brazil," the group said in a letter to
Justice Minister Tarso Genro.

Genro also has been asked to appear before the Senate's Foreign
Relations Committee to explain the arrest and deportation of the boxers.

In Havana, Rigondeaux and Lara told the Communist Party newspaper Granma
that they never intended to defect and denied signing with German promoters.

But Arena spokesman Malte Muller-Michaelis told The Associated Press,
"They definitely signed contracts, five-year contracts, and they
received money."

He also said Arena has received reports that relatives of the boxers
were arrested and released in Cuba.


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