A Spanish prosecutor Wednesday recommended dismissing the lawsuit against Cuban security officials filed by the family of dissident Oswaldo Payá, arguing that Spain’s government already has accepted the Havana version of Payá’s death as the result of a car accident.
The Madrid lawyer handling the suit, Francisco Andújar, said he had not yet seen the prosecution statement but added that the judge considering the lawsuit is not bound by the recommendation.
“In the first step, the judge receives the complaint and passes it to the (prosecution) so that it can give its opinion on whatever it considers necessary,” he told el Nuevo Herald. “Afterward, the judge makes a ruling.” There is no time limit on the judge.
Payá’s brother Carlos, a doctor who lives in Madrid, added that the prosecutor’s recommendation was “just a first step in something that we must take step by step.”
Oswaldo Payá’s widow and daughter filed the lawsuit last month in a Spanish court alleging that Cuban security agents rammed the car in which Payá, a Spanish citizen, and fellow dissident Harold Cepero were traveling and caused their deaths in eastern Cuba last summer.
Cuba’s official version is that Angel Carromero, a Spanish politician who was driving the car, caused the deaths when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. Carromero, who also claims his vehicle was rammed, is serving his four-year sentence for vehicular murder in Madrid, wearing an ankle monitor.
National Prosecutor Teresa Sandoval, in a statement made public Wednesday, essentially argued that the Spanish government had already accepted the ruling of the Cuban court that Payá’s death was an accident caused by Carromero.
Since the bilateral agreement under which Carromero was allowed to serve his sentence in Spain does not apply to political crimes, she wrote, that rules out “the existence of a murder committed as a consequence of a persecution … based on political motives.”
“The existence of an investigation of the facts can hardly be questioned … when the government of Spain has recognized the validity and efficacy of the sentence and thereby the penal proceedings before the Cuban justice system,” Sandoval added.
She also noted that Carromero has a long list of driving infractions that cost him his license, and that the crash, as described by the Cuban court, also would have amounted to a criminal violation under Spanish law.
Spanish courts lack the jurisdiction to initiate a new investigation, she added, “because it could go against the general principles of international penal rights with regards to the location of the events.”
Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón indicted former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998 for “crimes against humanity” committed in the Latin American nation. He was fired and convicted last year on charges of overstepping his jurisdiction in a 2008 probe of right-wing atrocities committed during and after the Spanish civil war of 1936-1939, despite a 1977 amnesty.
The Payá family lawsuit submitted to National Court Judge Eloy Velasco requested an investigation of two Cuban State Security officials, identified only as Col. Llanes and Lt. Col. Aguilas, who were in charge of monitoring the dissident.
An independent investigation of the case is needed as “an elemental question of justice,” the suit argued.
State Security agents are known to have followed Payá almost everywhere he went, and he had publicly complained that another car rammed his vehicle early last year and that the lug nuts on his vehicle had been loosened some years back.