The awful crash that claimed Oswaldo Paya’s life led immediately to questions about its cause, fueled mainly by statements by Paya’s own family to the effect that another car forced Paya’s car off the road (see BBC today, and his daughter’s statement yesterday).
The Cuban government has added nothing to the statement it delivered Monday, which said that according to witness statements, the car “went out of control and crashed into a tree.” [Update: On July 27 the Interior Ministry issued the results of its investigation.]
Here a roundup from other press reports:
AFP reports, based on a “Spanish Embassy source” in Havana, that the Spanish activist Angel Carromero, 27, was the driver of the car and remains under questioning in Bayamo with a Spanish consular officer nearby. The source said that the investigative process is “within the norm” given that Carromero was driving and two of his passengers died. The Swedish activist Aron Modig, also 27, was released and appears not to have given statements to police “given that he remembers nothing” of the crash, according to the same source.
A team of Reuters reporters filed this, noting that Carromero could face criminal charges:
“We have serious doubts that it was an accident,” Rosa Maria Paya, one of the activist’s three daughters, told Reuters. “But we do not know for sure what happened,” she added.
European diplomats said that while Modig had returned to Havana and was free to fly home, Carromero, who was driving the vehicle, remained in Granma as of Monday night, and faced possible charges for reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter.
The diplomats, who asked not to be identified, said it appeared the vehicle, traveling at well above the speed limit, hit a large pot hole, veered off the road and hit a tree.
The diplomats said that so far there was no evidence to back up the allegations by Paya’s daughter.
The diplomats said the Cuban government had met with both country’s ambassadors and expressed a desire to work out the incident.
Human rights monitor Elizardo Sanchez sent two activists to the scene. Based on their reports, Sanchez said that there appears to be no other car involved and “the facts indicate a lamentable accident” occurred. (See Diario de Cuba and an article today from Europa Press.) Sanchez also says that the definitive word from the Carromero and Modig will only come when they are outside Cuba.
Café Fuerte has photos of the car taken from the Facebook page of a local Cuban reporter.
In a story carried this morning in El Mundo, EFE reports that Carromero gave statements to the effect that he failed to see a sign that orders drivers to reduce their speed, he lost control, and the car went down an embankment. The story is datelined Madrid and is sourced to “Spanish diplomatic sources.” El Mundo reports separately from Havana, in a loosely phrased passage based on “non-official” sources, that Carromero lost control on a tight curve.
Radio Marti reports that Paya wrote his brother last June after a car accident in Havana that left him with the sense that it was “very probable” that “they tried to kill not just me but also my family.”
Update: More on all this in today’s Herald, including claims that Carromero and Modig phoned their offices on Sunday to say that they were being pursued by another vehicle, and in Carromero’s case, to say that their car was hit by a truck and driven off the road. In Chile, a Cuban opposition activist believes that if Carromero admitted failure to heed a traffic sign then his statement is the result of “coercion;” he goes on to explain that such a statement would ensure that a criminal case would proceed and result in one to 10 years jail time.