HAVANA TIMES — “It was a trial that was clean, open and procedurally flawless,” said Tomas Rodriguez, the consul of Spain in Cuba, when speaking to reporters. He added: “They respected all the norms of the process. The accused has been very well treated, he was been able to state his case on why he acted the way he did, and his defense was very good.”
The consul’s statement came at the end of the trial of against Angel Carromero, the Spanish citizen on trial for the deaths of two Cuban dissidents in a traffic accident, which resulted from excessive speed that prevented him from seeing the warning signs along the dangerous stretch.
It was argued that he entered onto that stretch driving in an incorrect manner and that he hit the brakes abruptly, which caused the car to skid and crash into a tree.
Forensic expects presented the injuries suffered by the dissidents who were accompanying him on a recruiting tour that had aimed to organize political opposition groups. The impact of the crash was so great that Oswaldo Paya’s skull cracked into five pieces and he suffered twenty breaks to his ribs, vertebrae and pelvis.
Outside the court, Paya’s children were trying to get interviews with the foreign press to state that they supported the defendant’s immediate release and return to Madrid. The family has bought into the theory of a conspiracy to kill Paya, though Carromero himself denied this at the trial when he re-emphasized that no other vehicle was involved in the accident.
Prosecuting attorney Isabel Barzaga emphasized the driving history of Carromero in Spain, where he has some forty traffic fines — three of which are for speeding. “We have before us a person who is frankly reckless; this doesn’t involve isolated behavior but of a pattern of reckless actions by him,” said the lawyer. The accusation was based on the “reckless manner” in which he was driving above the 40-mile-per-hour speed limit and didn’t respect the traffic signs along the road.
Carromero’s Cuban defense lawyer, Dorisbel Rojas, performed brilliantly – as was recognized even by the Spanish diplomats. She requested her client’s acquittal on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove that he was driving over the speed limit.
She also questioned some of the forensic evidence by posing those against the opinions of other specialists, and said the police experts had failed to provide the full findings of their investigation to the defense prior to the trial. She also recalled that her client had never accepted the accusation of his having speeded.
The lawyer pointed to the poor condition of the road, and especially the lack of adequate warning signs, which gave the driver only 10 seconds to react before entering onto the part of the road that was under repair and unpaved.
The defense attorney asserted that her client could have lost control of the vehicle after hitting a pothole and then blowing out a tire, which would have caused the vehicle to skid off of the roadway.
Attorney Rojas did not, however, place her full bet on an acquittal. She stressed that Angel Carromero could serve any possible sentence under house arrest in the residence of the consul or the ambassador of Spain in Havana, in case the court decided on a lesser penalty that avoided incarceration.
The trial concluded with only the verdict outstanding, which the court committed to issue within the next few days. The Spanish consul stated: “There are reasons to be optimistic. I’m practically sure there’s going to be a substantial reduction of the sentence.”
(*) See Fernando Ravsberg’s blog.