Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cuba opens criminal proceedings over dissident death

Cuba opens criminal proceedings over dissident death

HAVANA — Cuba has opened criminal proceedings against a Spanish
political activist blamed for a car crash that killed leading dissident
Oswaldo Paya and another man, the Communist Party daily Granma said Tuesday.

Granma said Angel Carromero, who was driving when their rental car went
off the road and slammed into a tree, was formally named in homicide
proceedings in connection with the July 22 accident in Bayamo,
southeastern Cuba.

At the same time, the newspaper said a Swedish survivor of the crash,
Jens Aron Modig, had been given permission to return to his country.
Modig had been in custody since being released from hospital shortly
after the crash.

Under Cuba's penal code, Carromero could face up to 10 years in prison
for committing traffic violations that resulted in death.

Cuba's dissident community suspected another vehicle might have forced
the car carrying Paya off the road, but Carromero and Modig both said
Monday that the crash was accidental and that no other vehicles had been

"I was driving in an area (of road that was) in bad condition" and lost
control, Carromero said, noting that he had taken "all the precautions
that a driver should take under such circumstances."

Modig backed up that story in a live interview before reporters.

Paya, 60, a leading opponent of the one-party rule of the Cuban
Communist Party, was the 2002 recipient of the European Parliament's
prestigious Sakharov prize, which is awarded for defending human rights
and freedom of thought.

His widow Ofelia Acevedo last week rejected a government report that
blamed the car crash on the driver. She also criticized officials for
not allowing her to talk to Carromero and Modig, who had been kept in

Paya's relatives had said they believed the rental car was forced off
the road by another vehicle.


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