One of the first independent persons to speak with Angel Carromero, convicted in the car crash in Cuba that killed dissident Oswaldo Payá, after his arrival in a Spanish prison has called for an international investigation of the fatal crash.
Esperanza Aguirre, Madrid leader of the conservative Popular Party, where Carromero was an activist, said she could not comment on the subjects of their talks Tuesday but that an international panel should investigate the July 22 crash.
Although she gave no further details, her comments seemed to point to complaints that Carromero and others have been covering up a Cuban government security agents’ role in the crash in order to get him home as quickly as possible.
Carromero was sentenced to four years in prison for vehicular homicide because he was driving the car when it crashed near the eastern city of Bayamo, killing Payá and fellow dissident Harold Cepero. Carromero and Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig survived with minor injuries.
Payá’s relatives say there’s evidence that another vehicle carrying the security agents, who followed the founder of the Christian Liberation Movement almost anywhere he went, had rammed Carromero’s car and caused the crash.
The Spanish politician recorded a video while still jailed in Cuba denying that his car was rammed. And the Cuban government has said that their investigation found only one vehicle involved in the accident. But Aguirre told reporters as she emerged from visiting Carromero at the Segovia prison northwest of Madrid that his trial and convictions were shams.
“We had to accept that sentence so that Angel could set foot on Spanish soil again,” she declared. “I do not recognize any sort of legal justice on the island. Cuba is a tyranny that just today marks 54 years oppressing an entire people.”
Payá’s widow, Ofelia Acevedo, told El Nuevo Herald on Wednesday that the truth about her husband’s death “is coming out step by step … I hope that Carromero can speak freely when he is again in charge of all his faculties.”
Aguirre described Carromero as “very affected” after five months in a Cuban prison and said she will push to win parole for him and that he promised to make public statements about his case after he leaves the Spanish prison and “gets his head straight.”
She said the five months “were torture” but gave no details other than that he was allowed outdoors only once every 15 days. Even inmates on punishment regimes in Spanish prisons are allowed outdoors for two hours a day, she noted.
“These details contradicts what officials at the Spanish embassy told me” in Havana, said Acevedo. “They said that Carromero was being treated well … Under the custody of the Cuban government, there was no way Carromero could have been well.”
Cuba sent Carromero to Spain on Saturday to serve the rest of his sentence there under a 1998 agreement between Madrid and Havana that allows convicted criminals to serve their sentences in their own countries.
Carromero worked for the Madrid municipality when Aguirre was its president — she left the job in September for health reasons — and was active in the youth wing of the Popular Party, known as New Generations.
Cuban authorities allege Carromero and Modig, both 27, went to Cuba to deliver cash to Payá and other dissidents. Aguirre said they went only to meet with dissidents, and were driving Payá and Cepero to Bayamo to check out an outbreak of cholera there because the Cubans did not have their own transportation.
Modig, meanwhile, announced over the year-end holidays that he will not seek reelection as president of the youth wing of Sweden’s Christian Democratic Party, set for May, but added that the “terrible events” in Cuba did not influence his decision.
He has repeatedly claimed that he was sleeping before the accident and then passed out immediately afterward from a blow to the head. Payá supporters claim he sent text messages to friends in Stockholm saying their car had been harassed and rammed.