WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court yesterday refused to review the convictions of five Cuban intelligence agents who said they did not receive a fair trial because of strong anti-Fidel Castro sentiment in Miami.
It also refused to get involved in local Texas governments' fight against fencing along the Mexican border.
The justices left in place the convictions of the so-called Cuban Five, despite calls from Nobel Prize winners and international legal groups to review the case.
Ruben Campa, Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Medina, and Antonio Guerrero were convicted in 2001 on charges of acting as unregistered Cuban agents in the United States and of espionage conspiracy for attempting to penetrate U.S. military bases.
Hernandez was also convicted of murder conspiracy in the deaths of four Miami-based pilots whose planes, part of the Brothers to the Rescue organization, were shot down by Cuban fighter jets in 1996 off the island's coast.
The five have been lionized in Cuba. Exile groups say they were justly punished.
Ten Nobel Prize winners and legal groups from a dozen countries urged the high court to step into the case, Campa v. U.S.
The Obama administration contended that the convictions were fair and that high court review was unnecessary.
A three-judge panel of the federal appeals in Atlanta initially had reversed the convictions, agreeing with the defendants the trial should have been moved from Miami.
But the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reinstated the convictions.
The court rejected a challenge by El Paso and other counties to a lower-court ruling dismissing a lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The local governments argued that Napolitano's predecessor, Michael Chertoff, improperly waived 37 federal laws that could have slowed or blocked construction of fencing that is intended to deter illegal immigrants.
As the case, El Paso v. Napolitano, worked its way through the courts, most of the fencing at issue was built.