BY JENNIFER BABSON
As the federal trial of Cuban exile leader Ramon Saul Sanchez began Tuesday, a U.S. Coast Guard commander testified that a Cuban gunboat headed toward Sanchez's speedboat when he entered Cuban waters in July.
Sanchez and two other men, Alberto Pérez and Pablo Rodríguez, were indicted last year for allegedly violating Florida Security Zone rules when they ventured into Cuban waters without Coast Guard permission. This is the first time anyone has been prosecuted for allegedly violating Security Zone rules.
The men were in Cuban seas for about an hour on a 23-foot speedboat called My Right to Return.
Cmdr. Joseph Sinnett, of the cutter Spencer, said the Coast Guard's radar picked up six Cuban gunboats in a semicircle in the island's territorial waters.
One left its position and ''started on an intercept course'' toward Sanchez's boat, Sinett said.
When Sanchez's boat stopped inside Cuban waters, the Cuban vessel also stopped, when the two boats were within four to six miles of each other, he testified.