Photo: Ofelia Acevedo
Ofelia Acevedo, late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya’s widow, said she has no confidence in the negligent homicide trial of Spanish political activist Angel Carromero, who was at the wheel for a July car crash near this eastern city that killed her husband and another government opponent.
“I don’t believe anything that happened (in the trial). There are lots of questions I’m asking myself and they never came up in court. I don’t know if one day I’ll know the exact truth of things,” Acevedo, who continues to insist on an independent investigation, told Efe here Saturday.
Accompanied by her three children - Rosa Maria, Oswaldo Jose and Reinaldo Isaias - Paya’s widow visited the site of the July 22 accident for the first time on Saturday.
“I think many other things happened here that perhaps I’ll never learn, because under Cuba’s civil code victims don’t have the right to anything,” Acevedo, who did not attend the trial, lamented.
Upon visiting the site, “I’m confirming that that (vehicle) never could have done those flips on this embankment. This isn’t slippery terrain. When I look at the tree ... I can’t imagine that the car could have hit the tree in that way,” she added.
“It was very painful for us to come here, but we had to do it.”
Paya’s family traveled to Bayamo, 750 kilometers (465 miles) east of Havana, a day before Carromero’s trial was held on Friday.
The 27-year-old leader of a youth group in Spain’s governing Popular Party testified in court that he was driving at a speed of between 80 and 90 kph (50 and 56 mph) and “unfortunately” lost control of the car upon entering a stretch of road full of potholes and road work.
Cuban authorities blame the accident on excessive speed and the driver’s failure to heed warning signs about road construction. They say the car was going 120 kph (nearly 75 mph) along a stretch of highway where the speed limit was 60 kph (around 37 mph).
Paya’s children tried to attend the trial but Cuban authorities prevented them and they stood for several hours behind the police cordon that blocked access to the Granma provincial court.
“They didn’t let my children into the (courthouse). They wanted to come to the trial against my will, because I don’t believe in the trial and I don’t think Carromero needs to be tried or anything of the sort,” Acevedo said.
Paya’s relatives say they consider Carromero to be innocent and have not pressed charges.
Acevedo told Efe she traveled to Bayamo to pick up the reports on the autopsies performed on her husband and on Harold Cepero, who also died in the crash.
She said she spent nine hours being bounced from one office to another before finally being given the documents at the city’s hospital.
After his initial statement in the trial, Carromero was interrogated by the prosecutor, who asked for a seven-year prison sentence, and also by his defense counsel, Dorisbel Rojas Perez.
She insistently questioned witnesses about the visibility of signs warning about road construction and the reasons why those signs were relocated after the accident.
Several witnesses said the signs were moved to preserve the skid marks of Carromero’s car after he entered the stretch covered with gravel.
The court has six working days to hand down a verdict, although that deadline could be extended by Cuba’s judicial authorities.
Paya was the promoter of the so-called Varela Project, which he presented to Cuba’s legislature in 2002 along with some 11,000 signatures to propose a referendum on a democratic and peaceful transition on the Communist-ruled island.
The petition was rejected by the Castro regime, but Paya emerged as the leading advocate of peaceful democratic change in Cuba.