Spanish court rejects case against Cuba over dissident's death

SPAIN CUBA

Spanish Judge Eloy Velasco. EFE/File
Spanish Judge Eloy Velasco. EFE/File

— A Spanish judge rejected on Monday a criminal complaint against Cuban military officers for the death of one of the island's most prominent dissidents.

Oswaldo Paya, the 60yearold founder of the Christian Liberation Movement, died on July 22, 2012, while traveling by car from Havana to the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.

Cuban authorities blamed the crash on the driver of the vehicle carrying Paya, but the person who was at the wheel, Spanish political activist Angel Carromero, now says the rental car was rammed from behind by a Cuban government vehicle.

His revised account was part of the criminal suit Paya's family filed last month with Spain's National Court.

The family brought the case in Spain because the late dissident was a dual CubanSpanish citizen.

In refusing to allow the case to proceed, National Court Judge Eloy Velasco agreed with Spanish prosecutors that Carromero's new version of events is "juridically incongruent" with the testimony he gave the Cuban court that convicted him of vehicular manslaughter.

The judge also cited the absence of any witnesses who could confirm or deny Carromero's latest account.

Two other people were in the car with Paya and Carromero. One of them, Cuban dissident Harold Cepeda, died in the crash, while the other, Swedish national Jens Aron Modig, was asleep at the time of the accident.

Sentenced to four years behind bars, Carromero was sent back to Spain last Dec. 29 under a bilateral accord on repatriation of prisoners.

The terms of his incarceration were softened in early January to allow for daytime work release and weekend furloughs. He was released outright the following month, though he remains subject to electronic monitoring.

Paya emerged as a leading opposition figure in 2002, when he delivered to Cuba's parliament more than 10,000 signed petitions calling for a referendum on democratization.

He was also honored that year with the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize.

 
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