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Latino Daily News

Wednesday March 6, 2013

Carromero Says Government Car Responsible for Crash That Killed Cuban Dissident

Carromero Says Government Car Responsible for Crash That Killed Cuban Dissident

Photo: Deadly crash in Cuba

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The Spaniard who was at the wheel for the car crash that resulted in the death of prominent Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya said a vehicle bearing official insignia caused the wreck.

Angel Carromero, a leader of the youth wing of Spain’s governing Popular Party, made his first public comments on the July 22, 2012, incident in an interview with the Washington Post.

The visiting Spaniard rented a car to drive Paya and fellow dissident Harold Cepero to visit friends in eastern Cuba. Swedish political activist Jens Aron Modig was also in the car.

The group was followed from Havana, with the trailing vehicles changing as they crossed provincial borders, Carromero said.

“And then another, newer car appeared and began to harass us, getting very close. Oswaldo and Harold told me it must be from ‘la Comunista’ because it had a blue license plate, which they said is what the government uses,” Carromero told the Post.

“The last time I looked in the mirror, I realized that the car had gotten too close - and suddenly I felt a thunderous impact from behind,” he said.

“I lost control of the car, and also consciousness - or that is what I believe, because from that point my memories are unclear,” Carromero said. “When I recovered consciousness, I was being put into a modern van. I don’t know how it had gotten there, but neither Oswaldo nor Harold nor Aron was inside.”

Modig was allowed to leave the island after giving a statement, but Cuban authorities held Carromero, alleging that he was speeding at the time of the accident.

The 27-year-old Spaniard was convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to four years in prison, but he returned to Madrid in December under a 1998 bilateral accord that allows convicts to serve their sentences in their homelands.

“The trial in Bayamo was a farce, to make me the scapegoat, but I had to accept the verdict without appeal in order to have the minimal possibility to get out of that hell,” Carromero told the Washington Post.

Within weeks of his return to Spain, Carromero was granted an open detention regime and he spends all but four nights a week at liberty.

Spain’s foreign minister said Wednesday he has no knowledge about the involvement of a second vehicle in the crash that killed Paya.

All of his information about the case is based on communications from Spanish diplomats in Cuba and on a bilateral memorandum of understanding, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said, reacting to Carromero’s comments in the interview.

The memorandum between Cuban authorities and the Spanish consul in Havana was signed with Carromero’s consent, the foreign minister said.