Doubts persist over Cuban report on crash

2012-07-30 12:03


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Havana - Cuban dissidents cast fresh doubt on Sunday on the Communist government's explanation of the death of a leading opposition figure Oswaldo Paya, who died last week in a car crash.

"The Cuban government has put on television [its] photos of the car [in which Paya was killed] and given a lot of explanations that leave questions unanswered," said Berta Soler, who leads the Ladies in White group which pushes for the release of political prisoners.

"So why haven't they shown a single photo of the car and the tree? Where is the tree?" asked Soler, referring to the official story that the car carrying four people, which crashed on 22 July near Bayamo, in Cuba's east, slammed into a tree.

The government insists Paya, aged 60, a leading opponent of the one-party rule of the Cuban Communist Party, was killed when Spanish driver Angel Carromero lost control of the rental car and the vehicle struck a tree.

Suspicions remain widespread among dissidents that Cuban officials have not released all the facts.

Elizardo Sanchez, who leads the dissident information clearinghouse Cuban National Reconciliation and Human Rights Committee, has said he believes there was an accident but not necessarily what the government has said about it.

Two survivors

"We have seen the official report, and we are not convinced by the official report," said Sanchez.

Only the two crash survivors, Carromero and Swedish political activist Jens Aron Modig, "can say what really happened there. But their statements to Cuban police would be slanted", he charged.

Paya was the 2002 recipient of the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov prize, which is awarded for defending human rights and freedom of thought.

His widow Ofelia Acevedo slammed officials for not allowing her to talk to the two crash survivors, who have been kept in custody since the incident.

In a lengthy report on Friday, the interior ministry said that Carromero, a political activist with Spain's conservative Popular Party, lost control of the vehicle when he hit the brakes on the slippery surface of an unpaved section of road while speeding.

Paya's family, however, has said it has information that the rental car was forced off the road by another vehicle.

Acevedo said she did not believe the government's account.

Carromero faces charges of traffic violations resulting in death, which can carry up to 10 years in prison under Cuba's penal code.

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