Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cuban dissident's widow does not buy accident story

Cuban dissident's widow does not buy accident story
Published August 22, 2012

Ofelia Acevedo, the widow of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, once again on
Wednesday rejected the government version that her husband's death in a
car crash last month was an accident and renewed her call for an
"independent" investigation into the matter.

All of Paya's relatives continue to be "very grief-stricken" over the
death of the human rights activist and on Wednesday night a Mass will be
celebrated for him in a private home in the Cuban capital, Acevedo told
Efe in Havana.

Paya and fellow Cuban opposition figure Harold Cepero died on July 22 in
a traffic accident near the city of Bayamo, more than 750 kilometers
(465 miles) from Havana, as they were riding in a vehicle driven by
Spaniard Angel Carromero. A Swedish citizen, Jens Aron Modig, was also
in the car.

The causes of the accident, according to the government version, were
excessive speed and other errors committed by the driver at an unpaved
spot on the road - albeit where a sign had been placed warning the
public to use caution there - where repairs were under way.

Carromero, the head of a youth group in Spain's governing Popular Party,
or PP, and Modig, the president of Sweden's Christian Democratic Youth
League, confirmed the government's narrative in recorded statements that
were shown to the press in Havana.

The Spaniard, who has been held in jail since the crash and who must
face trial for negligent homicide and a potential sentence of 7 years in
prison in the coming days, asked "the international community ... (to)
focus" on getting him out of Cuba and "not to use ... (the matter) for
political ends."

Cuban authorities allowed Modig - who had said he was sleeping in the
back seat of the car at the time of the crash and could not shed any
more light on it - to return to Sweden a few days after the accident.

The judicial process begun as a result of the accident "doesn't mean
anything" because it "doesn't change at all the opinion" she has "about
the official version of the events," Acevedo said.

There must be "an additional investigation independent of the Cuban
government," Acevedo said.

The widow said she wanted to speak with Carromero, who is being held in
the Interior Ministry's confinement center in Havana. She has not filed
any accusation against the Spaniard because she believes that "he should
have been in Spain for a while" because "he is innocent."

"I'm demanding to meet with him without the presence of Cuban state
security" because he was "the last person to see my husband" alive,
Acevedo said, adding that she had received information that another
vehicle was on the road at the accident site when Paya and Carromero's
vehicle crashed into a tree.

Contacts continue to be made to resolve Carromero's situation, the
Spanish Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

The PP, for its part, several times has emphasized the need for
discretion in the case and its "confidence in the actions" of the
Spanish government. EFE

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