CUBA

Payá’s relatives: Spanish politician told us his deadly car crash wasn’t an accident

 

jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

The daughter and brother of noted Havana dissident Oswaldo Payá said Thursday the Spanish politician convicted in his death told them that another vehicle rammed his car and caused the fatal crash in Cuba last summer.

Angel Carromero “confirmed the events that we had already alleged,” Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo told El Nuevo Herald by phone after a Madrid news conference in which she revealed text messages that she said indicated Cuban security agents caused the crash.

Payá Acevedo also demanded an international investigation into the “probable murder” of her father and noted that her family is still considering whether it will file a lawsuit against Cuba in a Spanish court. Her father was a Spanish citizen.

Oswaldo Payá’s brother Carlos and Regis Iglesias, representative of Payá’s Christian Liberation Movement in Spain, said they also were at the meeting on Tuesday with Carromero and confirmed the daughter’s version.

Carromero, on parole in Madrid while serving the four-year sentence imposed by a Cuban tribunal for vehicular homicide, has said nothing publicly about the case. A prosecution video showed him stating that the car he was driving ran off the road but making no mention of any ramming. Friends have said his memory has been fuzzy but improving because of the painkillers he received at a Cuban hospital after the crash.

Payá’s daughter and brother said Carromero told them another vehicle caused the July 22 car crash near the eastern city of Bayamo. Aboard were Carromero, Payá, dissident Harold Cepero, who also died, and Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig.

“He confirmed to us that the car in which they were traveling was rammed and forced off the road,” she said. The Spaniard added that unidentified men in a third car stopped at the crash and drove away the two Europeans while the Cubans remained at the crash site, she said.

“We don’t know what happened to my father and (Cepero) … but hours later they were both dead,” she said. Cuba says Payá died immediately in a single-car crash caused by Carromero’s speeding, and that Cepero died a few hours later in a Bayamo hospital.

Payá, one of Cuba’s most respected dissidents, was known to be followed by Cuban state security agents almost everywhere he went. Cuban officials have published photos of Carromero’s damaged car, a body on the ground next to it and a damaged tree.

Speaking on what would have been her father’s 61st birthday, Payá Acevedo also made public what she said were copies of text messages sent by Modig soon after the crash to a fellow Christian Democratic Party member in Stockholm.

“Angel says a car pushed him off the road,” said one message written in Swedish. Others, in Spanish, say “Help!” and “Surrounded by militants” – apparently military.

Carromero and Modig, both 28 and activists in the youth wings of conservative parties in their respective countries, were visiting Cuba to meet with Payá and hand over cash assistance for dissidents, according to the prosecution version.

The Spaniard was allowed to return to Madrid under a Cuban-Spanish treaty that allows citizens of both nations to serve prison sentences in their own countries. Modig left Cuba shortly after the crash and has said only that he was sleeping before the car went off the road.

Payá Acevedo said she will soon fly to Sweden for meetings with Christian Democratic Party officials and hopes to meet with Modig.

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