Florida Congressmen Urge President Trump to Consider Murder Charges for Raul Castro Over 1996 Plane Shootdown

What to Know

  • Four pro-democracy activists died when the planes from which they dispersed leaflets over Cuban territory were shot down.
  • Cuba's Raul Castro was head of Revolutionary Armed Forces at the time of the incident in 1996.
  • U.S. President Trump has been asked to consider whether Castro should be indicted for murder.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart have urged President Donald Trump to consider whether former Cuban leader Raul Castro should be indicted for murder over the 1996 shootdown of two Brothers to the Rescue airplanes in which four died.

In a letter, the Florida congressmen called on Trump to direct the U.S. Department of Justice to review whether Castro "should be indicted for the illegal and heinous act of shooting down in international waters two American civilian aircraft."

Three American citizens and a U.S. resident were killed when Cuban Air Force fighter jets downed two Cessna Skymaster planes operated by the Miami-based Cuban exile Brothers to the Rescue nonprofit.

After the shootdown, a U.S. federal court indicted the head of the Cuban Air Force and the two pilots involved on murder charges. However, Rubio and Diaz-Balart are calling Trump's administration to consider whether Castro should also be indicted for murder, as he served as Cuba's Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.

The planes were dropping pro-democracy leaflets on Cuban territory.

"Taking these bold actions would demonstrate to our adversaries that they cannot act with impunity against Americans, and that human rights abusers and criminals will be held accountable for their crimes," the letter reads. "Most importantly, it would send a signal to the Cuban people that the United States will not permit their oppressors to operate without consequences."

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