Trial opens in Cuba against Spaniard involved in deaths of dissidents

"I am profoundly sorry for the accident," says Nuevas Generaciones official Cuban auhtorities detain dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez and her husband

Madrid -
Ángel Carromero arrives for his trial in Bayamo, Cuba.
Ángel Carromero arrives for his trial in Bayamo, Cuba.Reuters

Saying that he was truly sorry for the “unfortunate” car accident that claimed the death of two Cuban dissidents, Spaniard Ángel Carromero went on trial Friday before a Cuba court in the eastern town of Bayamo near the scene of the July 22 incident.

Carromero, an official with the Popular Party’s (PP) youth wing Nuevas Generaciones, faces seven years for negligent homicide in connection with the deaths of Oswaldo Payá, 60, the leader of the dissident Cuban Liberation Movement, and his assistant Harold Cepero, 31. Both men, along with Jens Aron Modig, of the Swedish Christian Democratic Youth League, were riding in the rented vehicle Carromero was driving when the accident occurred.

Carromero and Modig were slightly injured.

“I am profoundly sorry,” Carromero said during his opening statement. “I have lost so much during this time but it doesn’t compare to the pain that the [victims’] families are facing.”

According to the official version, the cause of the accident was due to Carromero’s speeding and reckless driving

Upon questioning by a prosecutor, the 27-year-old Carromero said that he was driving between 80 to 90 km/h on a road between the cities of Bayamo and Las Tunas where construction was underway.

According to the official version, the cause of the accident was due to Carromero’s speeding and reckless driving.

His defense lawyers have asked that the Madrid native be acquitted and expelled from Cuba.

The accident has become a diplomatic nightmare for the Rajoy administration. Carromero and Modig were in Cuba trying to help Payá and Cepero with their dissident activities. Payá became a well-known international opponent of the Castro regime when he organized the Varela signature project in 1998 calling for more political reforms, including religious and press freedoms.

Wearing a white shirt and khaki pants and with his hair cropped, Carromero arrived in a white van escorted by two plain clothes Cuban. Prosecutors announced that they will call in eight witnesses and 13 experts.

In a related incident, award winning Cuban blogger and EL País contributor Yoani Sánchez was detained on Thursday night as she and her husband were traveling to Bayamo to cover the trial. According to dissidents, Sánchez telephoned her family saying that she and her husband, Reinaldo Escobar, were stopped by authorities.

Other dissidents were expected to attend the trial.

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