Published Tuesday, June 25, 1996, in the Miami Herald.

U.S. forced fabrication of report, Cubans say

HAVANA -- (EFE) -- A top Cuban official accused the United States on Monday of having coerced investigators from the International Civil Aeronautics Organization into writing a report critical of Cuba for downing two airplanes of the anti-Castro group Brothers to the Rescue.

``Long meetings took place in Montreal, behind closed doors, during which the report was stitched together the way a tailor manufactures a suit after the measurements are dictated to him,'' Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's National Assembly, said at a press conference.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Peter Tarnoff said Thursday in Washington that the report concluded the civilian planes were shot down Feb. 24 over international waters. The Cuban government has consistently maintained that the planes violated Cuban air space and fell into Cuban waters.

The Montreal-based organization is the United Nations' aviation arm. Its 33 members are scheduled to examine the report Wednesday and send it to the 15-member Security Council.

According to Alarcon, the meetings between unidentified U.S. officials and members of the investigating team were held May 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9 and June 4 and 5. During that period, two sessions were postponed.

``We must believe that that's when the real work was done,'' Alarcon said.

After the two Miami-based planes were downed by Cuban jet fighters, the United Nations Security Council directed the organization to conduct an investigation. Both Cuba and the United States supported the council's action.

Alarcon denied that Cuba tampered with the recorded conversations between the fighter pilots and their control tower. And he said the United States submitted no evidence that the civilian planes fell into international waters.

He said Cuba delivered the original pilot-to-tower audio tapes to the organization in March, whereas the United States submitted only a transcript of its recording two months later.

Now the United States demands that the subject be discussed ``hurriedly'' Wednesday, the last day of the sessions, Alarcon said.


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Copyright 1996 The Miami Herald