The trial of the Spanish politician charged with causing the death of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá in a car crash did not start Friday as expected, while Payá supporters pushed their allegations that government agents had a hand in the crash.
Two Spanish newspapers had reported that Angel Carromero’s trial on charges of vehicular homicide would start Friday in the eastern city of Bayamo, closest to the scene of the July 22 crash in which Payá and dissident Harold Cepero died.
But Cuban authorities made no announcement Friday, and Bayamo residents said that although there were signs of preparations for an important event at the auditorium of the city’s Manuel Muñoz Cedeño Provincial Art School, no trial had started.
Telephone company workers have been installing equipment in the auditorium for a few days and neighbors say they believe the Carromero trial could begin next week, said Bayamo dissident Yoandri Gutierrez.
The Spanish embassy in Havana said there was no official information at all on the trial. Prosecutors have accused Carromero of causing the car crash by speeding and will reportedly seek a seven year prison sentence.
Carromero, a Madrid official of New Generations, the youth wing of Spain’s ruling Popular Party, was driving the car. Next to him was Jens Aaron Modig, president of the youth League of the Christian Democratic Party of Sweden. They were not seriously injured and Modig was allowed to return to Sweden.
Paya, who founded and led the opposition Christian Liberation Movement, and Cepero a CLM member, were in the back seat, which bore the brunt of the car’s crash against a tree. They were not wearing seat belts, according to the government version.
Payá’s family and supporters have repeatedly alleged, however, that they have information that Carromero and Modig complained to friends in Europe after the crash that another vehicle rammed them and forced them off the road.
A New Generations leader, Borja Alcedo, told a Spanish radio station Friday that Carromero telephoned him immediately after the crash and told him of an “accident” but the call dropped off. Alcedo provided no further details.
A leading Paya supporter on Friday also expanded on the claims that Carromero and Modig had informed friends in Europe they were being harassed in Cuba, presumably by government security agents.
Regis Iglesias, the Christian Liberation Movement’s representative in Madrid, said that the day before the crash the two visitors reported they had been “closely followed since their arrival in Cuba.”
The day of the crash the Europeans also sent text messages to unidentified friends from their cell phones reporting that another car had rammed them and forced them off the road, Iglesias said in an interview with the U.S. government’s Radio/TV Marti in Miami.
He said he received that information from Cayetana Muriel Aguado, a Spaniard who lives in Sweden and is close to the Christian Democratic Party there. She was visiting Madrid at the time of the accident.
Modig has claimed that he was sleeping when the car crashed, and then passed out. Carromero, in a Cuban government video of his testimony, makes no mention of another car. Aguado has made no public statements.
Iglesias said Spanish and Swedish authorities appear to have agreed to keep the text messages private in order to avoid clashing with the Cuban government and helping Carromero to get out of prison as quickly as possible.
Payá’s family also has said that friends who went to the Bayamo hospital the day of the crash heard a police investigator say that a Lada, a type of car often used by state security agents, was very near Carromero’s rented Hyundai at the time of the crash.