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

    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

    jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

    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 dissident awarded the European Parliament's

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

    Carromero caused the one-car accident, 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 Spain'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 Gross was arrested 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 prison 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 police 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.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/17/2956674/spanish-driver-in-oswaldo-paya.html

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