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Church spokesman: Cuban police remove dissidents from Roman Catholic church in Havana
HAVANA (AP) ' Cuban police evicted 13 dissidents from a Havana church they had been occupying for two days demanding that Pope Benedict XVI air a list of grievances during his upcoming trip to the island, a Roman Catholic Church spokesman said.
The protesters were removed from the Church of Charity in densely packed Central Havana late Thursday at the request of the city's cardinal, church spokesman Orlando Marquez said in a statement.
"Cardinal Jaime Ortega addressed the competent authorities to invite the occupiers to abandon the sanctuary," the statement said.
The dissidents were removed without resistance, it added.
"The agents who carried out the operation had assured the Church they would be unarmed, that they would initially take the 13 persons to a police station and then to their homes. It also said they would be processed," Marquez said.
The dissidents initially occupied the church to demand an audience with Pope Benedict XVI when he visits Cuba this month. They later changed their demand and said they wanted the pontiff to mediate a list of their grievances with the Cuban government.
They had been in the church since Tuesday.