Human Rights in Cuba

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Posted on Friday, 08.17.12

Spanish driver in Oswaldo Payá crash to be tried Aug. 31

It is not known if the Cuban government will allow journalists to attend

the trial in the eastern city of Bayamo.

By Juan O. Tamayo

The Spanish politician accused in the deaths of Cuban dissidents Oswaldo

Payá and Harold Cepero will go on trial Aug. 31 on a charge of vehicular

homicide, according to news media reports Friday.

Madrid's El Mundo newspaper reported that the oral part of Angel

Carromero's trial will start Aug. 31 in the eastern city of Bayamo, near

the spot where the car he was driving crashed into a tree, killing the

two Cuban passengers.

Relatives of Payá, a leading awarded the European Parliament's

Sakharov Prize in 2002, do not believe the government version that

Carromero caused the one-car , saying they have reports that

another car forced him off the road.

Carromero's defense will be in the hands of two Cuban female lawyers

hired by his supporters in 's Popular Party, with the unofficial

help of a Spanish lawyer who under Cuban law cannot represent clients on

the island, El Mundo added.

Prosecutors are asking for a seven year sentence — 42 months for each

fatality — on a charge of vehicular homicide, alleging that Carromero

was driving too fast when he crashed on July 22. El Mundo reported that

its sources noted the sentence could be cut to five years.

Payá died immediately and Cepero, a member of Payá's Christian

Liberation Movement, shortly afterward. Carromero, a youth leader in the

Spain's Popular Party, and Jens Aron Modig, president of the Youth

League of Sweden's Christian Democratic Party, suffered minor injuries.

Both are 27 years old.

Carromero and Modig were in Cuba to meet with Payá and other dissidents

and deliver about $5,000 to the activists. They had picked up Payá and

Cepero in Havana the morning of the crash for a two-day trip to eastern

Cuba. Bayamo is 460 miles east of Havana.

There has been no indication of whether Cuban authorities will allow

national or foreign journalists to attend Carromero's trial, which was

scheduled surprisingly quickly.

U.S. government subcontractor Alan was in Havana on Dec.

3, 2009, but was not put on trial until March 4, 2011. Eight days later,

he was sentenced to 15 years in for delivering three satellite

telephones to Cuba's tiny Jewish community.

Havana has all but offered to free Gross in exchange for five Cuban

spies convicted in a Miami trial in 2001. The Obama administration has

publicly rejected the offers and insisted that bilateral relations

cannot improve until Gross is freed.

Spanish politicians have repeatedly spoken of their hopes to bring

Carromero home as soon as possible after his trial.

Cuba's penal code allows the government to decree the expulsion of any

foreigner convicted of a crime. The Payá family has refused to file a

legal complaint against Carromero, because they do not believe he was

responsible for the crash.

Last year, Havana expelled Sebastián Martínez Ferraté, a Spaniard

arrested in 2010 and sentenced to seven years in prison for corruption

of minors in connection with his 2008 documentary on child prostitution

in Cuba.

Carromero also could be sent to Spain to serve out his Cuban sentence

under the terms of a 1998 agreement between the two nations, according

to El Mundo.

The Spaniard is being held in a notorious Havana investigations

facility known by its street address as "100 and Aldabó." He is assigned

to an apartment-type cell, with air conditioning and television, which

he shares with one other inmate.

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