Spaniard involved in fatal accident in Cuba charged with homicide

Two dissidents died in car driven by political activist Ángel Carromero Spanish government yet to issue official reaction to murder charges

Ángel Carromero explains his side of the accident via video-conference.
Ángel Carromero explains his side of the accident via video-conference.Alejandro Ernesto (EFE)

A member of the Popular Party’s youth group Nuevas Generaciónes, who was arrested on July 22 in Cuba following a car accident that claimed the life of two Cuban dissidents, has been charged with homicide by local authorities, the official Communist Party newspaper Granma announced in its Tuesday edition.

Charges reportedly filed against Ángel Carromero, 27, come a day after he told the international press through a video conference that he lost control of the vehicle he was driving, causing the accident that killed 60-year-old Oswaldo Payá, founder of the dissident party Christian Liberation Movement, and Harold Cepera, another party official.

More than a week after the accident, which took place near Bayamo, in the eastern part of Cuba, Payá’s family and other dissidents were claiming that Carromero and the Swede, Jens Aron Modig, of the Swedish Christian Democractic Youth League, had told them that another vehicle ran them off the road.

But the Cuban inquiry determined that Carromero was driving too fast, losing control and hitting a tree. Carromero also denied that there was another vehicle involved.

“No other vehicle hit us from behind. Quite simply, I was driving, saw a pothole and took the precaution of any driver, which is to brake lightly. The car lost control,” he said during Monday’s video conference. Both Payá and Cepera, the Christian Liberation Movement’s 31-year-old youth leader, were riding in the back of the vehicle and were not wearing seat belts.

The Spanish government has not issued any official reaction to the murder charges filed against Carromero. But on Monday, Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo said the government “had all the information” concerning Carromero’s arrest and expected to have him back home soon. “We must be discreet so as to not jeopardize this operation,” the foreign minister said.

Spain’s Ambassador to Havana, Álvaro Kirkpatrick, visited Carromero on Monday night at a detention center in the Cuban capital. Kirkpatrick said the Nueva Generaciónes leader was “nervous” but “well taken care of.”

Carromero and Modig were in Cuba offering assistance to Payá’s group. They both entered the island as tourists. During the video conference in Havana, Modig, who was present, acknowledged that he had given Payá’s group some 4,000 euros to help them with its activities.

“Spaniard Ángel Carromero Barrios is currently being charged with homicide related to driving a vehicle on a public road. Swede Jens Aron Modig was allowed to return to his country despite the illegal activities he was conducting and the violations to immigration laws,” Granma said.

Carlos Payá, the late dissident’s son, who lives in Madrid, was not willing to make known his opinion about Carromero’s statements or the charges filed against the Spaniard.

“We are just asking for a little understanding,” he told a Spanish radio station. “We don’t want more suffering and surely don’t want more families to suffer.”

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