Family of murdered Cuban dissident file suit in Spain against Cuba’s dictatorship
Family of Cuba dissident Oswaldo Paya file lawsuit alleging murder by Castro regime
The family of Oswaldo Paya, a prominent Cuban dissident who died in a car crash on the Communist island last year, have filed a lawsuit in Spain alleging he was murdered by the Castro government.
The wife and daughter of Paya, a recipient of the European Union's top human rights award, asked a Spanish court to investigate the death, accusing two top Cuban army officials of involvement in the fatal crash in July last year.
Paya, one of the foremost leaders of the Cuban opposition, died along with fellow activist Harold Cepero after the vehicle in which they were travelling swerved off the road and collided with a tree in Bayamo, in the province of Granma.
In a highly controversial case, Angel Carromero, a visiting Spanish politician who was driving the rental car at the time of the crash, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter by a Cuban court and sentenced to four years in prison.
But many of Paya's relatives and fellow dissidents have refused to accept that version of events, alleging instead that Cuban government agents forced the car off the road.
"(His death) was not an isolated incident, it was the result of a continuing process that started a long time ago," Paya's brother, Carlos, told the Spanish news agency Efe.
Carromero, leader of the youth wing of Spain's ruling Popular Party, has been allowed to serve most of his sentence in Spain and has since rejected Havana's account of the crash. In an interview with Spain's El Mundo newspaper, he claimed that 60-year-old Paya was not killed in the collision.
Paya had dual Cuban and Spanish nationality, meaning Spanish authorities can investigate his death even though it occurred overseas.
Paya's wife, Ofelia Acevedo Maura, and daughter, Rosa Maria Paya Acevedo, said they had filed the lawsuit at Spain's High Court. Paya's Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) said in a statement that the suit accused Lieutenant Colonel Aguilas and Colonel Llanes, two top officials at a department which investigates crimes against the security of the Cuban state, of involvement in the dissident's death. The statement did not elaborate on what roles they were alleged to have played in the crash.
The MCL said it trusted in the Spanish courts to grant the justice that had been denied in Cuba.
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