Cuba charges Spaniard Angel Carromero in dissident Oswaldo Paya's death


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The Independent US

Cuba has charged a Spanish citizen with the equivalent of vehicular manslaughter in a car accident that killed prominent dissident Oswaldo Paya and another government opponent, official media said today.

Angel Carromero, who was behind the wheel of the car that was carrying Paya when it crashed on 22 July, "has been accused of the charge of homicide while driving a vehicle on public roads," Communist Party newspaper Granma said.

Under the penal code, a person convicted of violating traffic laws or rules resulting in the death of another can be sentenced to one to 10 years in prison.

In videotaped testimony played for journalists yesterday, Carromero said he lost control of the car when it suddenly entered an unpaved area of road under construction and he slammed on the brakes, causing it to skid.

An investigation found that Carromero was speeding and failed to heed traffic signs warning of the construction, and Cuban authorities had hinted that charges might be forthcoming. Another dissident, Harold Cepero, also died in the crash.

A spokeswoman for Spain's Foreign Ministry said her ministry had not received any notification of a change in Carromero's status. She spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department policy.

Granma said Carromero and Swedish citizen Jens Aron Modig, who was also riding in the car when it crashed, entered the country on 19 July on tourist visas. Both are affiliated with conservative political parties in their home countries and have said they came to Cuba to bring 4,000 euros to Paya and help organize dissident youth wings.

Cuba's government considers the small opposition groups to be subversive, and objects to foreign-based efforts to support them.

Granma said Modig had been allowed to return to Sweden "in spite of the illegal activities he carried out and the violation of his migratory status."

Today he tweeted: "Have European soil under my feet. So nice!"

Presented to foreign journalists the previous day, Modig apologized for his conduct.

"I understand that these activities are not legal in Cuba and I would like to apologize for having come to this country to realize illicit activities," he said, according to a Spanish translation of his comments.