CUBA

Report: Spanish politician will sue Cuba over Payá death

 

Angel Carromero, who was convicted in the accident that claimed dissident Oswaldo Payá’s life, will reportedly allege that another car caused the accident.

jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

A Spanish politician is preparing a lawsuit against the Cuban government alleging that another vehicle rammed his and caused the accident that killed renowned Havana dissident Oswaldo Payá, according to a digital Madrid newspaper.

El Confidencial’s report Friday quoted unidentified sources as saying that Angel Carromero’s lawsuit would be backed by a signed declaration from the other survivor of the crash, Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig.

Carromero has also privately told those same allegations to members of Payá’s inner circle who have been trying to gather evidence about the July 22 crash in eastern Cuba near the city of Bayamo, one knowledgeable source told El Nuevo Herald.

His Madrid lawyer, Jose Maria Viñals, was quoted in another report as saying that he has received no instructions to start a lawsuit. Payá’s brother Carlos, who lives in Madrid, and his widow in Havana, Ofelia Acevedo, said they knew nothing about the report.

Members of the Popular Party who are close to Carromero, a party activist, told El Nuevo on Friday that the lawsuit report was news to them, but one added that he had no doubt that “at some point Angel will tell his version” of the crash.

El Confidencial reported that Popular Party officials had told the digital newspaper that they knew nothing about Carromero’s plans for a lawsuit although one added that he considered it “an error. It’s not the time.”

The lawsuit would be based on the fact that Payá held both Cuban and Spanish citizenships because of his parents, according to the digital report.

Cuban authorities say Carromero was driving a rented car too fast, lost control and slammed into a tree. Payá died at the scene and Harold Cepero, a member of his dissident Christian Liberation Movement, died three hours later in a Bayamo Hospital.

A tribunal in Bayamo sentenced Carromero to four years in prison for vehicular homicide, but he was extradited to Spain on Dec. 28 under a 1998 pact between Madrid and Havana that allows convicts to serve their sentences in their own countries. He is now under a part-time parole. Modig returned to Sweden days after the accident.

But Payá’s family has long insisted that there’s evidence Carromero was rammed and forced off the road by another vehicle, presumably driven by the State Security agents who constantly tailed the respected dissident.

Relatives and supporters around the world have been trying for months to gather evidence backing up the allegations that another car rammed Carromero’s, and are known to have been considering legal action that would give them subpoena powers.

Their main target: Text messages that Modig allegedly sent to a woman friend in Stockholm shortly before and after the accident, reporting that another car was following them and then had rammed them from behind and forced them off the road.

Carromero filmed a video while he was detained in Cuba in which he did not mention another car. Modig has claimed that he was sleeping before the crash. Both have refused to talk in public and in detail about the accident after leaving Cuba.

Carromero is an activist in the Madrid youth wing of the Popular Party while Modig is the outgoing president of the youth wing of Sweden’s Christian Democratic Party. Cuba has alleged the Europeans, both 28, went to the island to deliver money to Payá.

The Popular Party government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has stayed largely out of the controversy over the cause of Payá’s death, with the dissident’s supporters alleging that it fears retaliation against Spanish business interests in Cuba.

Relatives and supporters of Payá have steadfastly declined to put public pressure on Carromero or Modig to speak out on the crash, saying that they were victims of the crash just like Payá and Cepero.

Carlos Payá, who has previously confirmed that he spoke once with Carromero, told El Nuevo Herald that he would not comment on the “rumor” published by El Confidencial. “We’re talking about the death of my brother. We have to be serious,” he said.

Regis Iglesias, the representative in Spain for Payá’s dissident movement, said he was also surprised by the report that Carromero is preparing to sue Cuba.

Freelance journalist Daniele Grasso reported from Madrid and El Nuevo Herald staff writer Juan O. Tamayo reported from Miami.

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