Cuba blames Spanish driver in crash that killed dissidents

Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:36pm GMT

By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) - A Spanish politician was to blame for a car crash that killed two Cuban dissidents, including Oswaldo Paya, Cuba said on Friday in a report on an accident that has raised suspicions among opposition activists and some foreign governments.

The preliminary report, based on the testimony of three eyewitnesses and the Spanish driver Angel Carromero Barrios, said Carromero did not heed a series of signals to slow down for repair work on the road and lost control of the car.

It estimated the car was travelling at 75 miles per hour (121 km per hour) at the time of the accident. The posted speed limit was 37 mph (60 kph).

Paya, the 60-year-old leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, and fellow dissident Harold Cepero were killed in the crash on Sunday in eastern Granma province. Both were riding in the back seat and neither wore a seatbelt, the report said.

Along with Carromero, the vice president of Spain's ruling Popular Party's "New Generations" movement, Swedish politician Aron Modig, chairman of Sweden's Christian Democrats' youth wing, was riding in the front seat. Both had their seatbelts fastened.

The two foreigners escaped relatively unscathed from the crash and remain in the country as the investigation continues.

The report indicated possible criminal charges were being considered. The report's conclusion that Carromero was to blame for the accident suggested that he could face charges of reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter.

Paya's death caused consternation within dissident circles and among Cubans living abroad and some foreign governments.   Continued...

Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya talks to reporters in Havana in this March 30, 2011 file photo. Paya, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, died on July 22, 2012 in a car crash, religious and dissident sources said. Paya, 60, was traveling in eastern Granma province at the time of the accident, the details of which are not known, the sources said. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan/Files
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