Carromero gets 4 years for dissidents’ death

HAVANA TIMES (dpa) — Spanish politician Angel Carromero, 27, was sentenced to four years in jail in Cuba over the traffic accident in which Cuban dissident leader Oswaldo Paya was killed in July, Cuban state media reported Monday.

The provincial court in Granma, in eastern Cuba, found Carromero guilty of homicide, the pro-government website Cubadebate reported.
The sentence is in accordance with the “severity of events, which led to the regrettable death of two people,” the report said.

Carromero, 27, a member of Spain’s ruling People’s Party, was tried on October 5 in the town of Bayamo, on charges of “reckless behaviour” on the road. He faced two counts of negligent homicide, and the public prosecutor was seeking a seven-year prison term.

Both Carromero and the public prosecutor have the right to appeal.

Carromero was driving the car when it crashed into a tree on July
22 near Bayamo.

Paya and fellow dissident Harold Cepero died, while Carromero and Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig suffered minor injuries. Paya, 60, and Cepero had been riding in the back seat and were not wearing seat belts.

The official investigation showed “categorically” that Carromero was speeding at the time of the crash on a stretch of road that was being repaired, Cuban authorities said shortly after the accident.

Cuba is known for its poor roads.

Carromero was discharged from a hospital within a day, and has since been held by Cuban authorities.

He and Modig had travelled to Cuba as tourists, but planned to meet with the opposition to Cuban President Raul Castro. He was only tried for the traffic incident, however, and not for illegally engaging in political activities in Cuba.

Cuban dissidents and Paya’s family had expressed doubts about the nature of the accident and voiced suspicions of foul play. Both Carromero and Modig, however, said in Cuba that it was just an accident with no other vehicles involved.

As head of the dissident Christian Liberation Movement, Paya waged a long-running campaign of legal initiatives to reform communist Cuba. He was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize and in
2002 was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.