Friday, March 29, 2013

U.S. administration calls for investigation of the death of Cuban Oswaldo Payá

Posted on Thursday, 03.28.13

U.S. administration calls for investigation of the death of Cuban
Oswaldo Payá
By Juan O. Tamayo

The Obama administration has joined growing calls for an independent
investigation into the deaths of Cuba's most respected dissident Oswaldo
Payá and a fellow dissident in a car crash that some allege was caused
by state security agents.

"The United States supports the calls for an international investigation
with independent international observers" into the deaths of Payá and
Harold Cepero, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday.

"The people of Cuba and the families of these two activists deserve a
clear, credible accounting of the events that resulted in their tragic
deaths," Nuland said during a news briefing.

Nuland's comments came amid growing calls for an independent
investigation into the July 22 car crash that killed Payá and Cepero, an
activist in Payá's Christian Liberation Movement.

The Cuban government says Spanish politician Angel Carromero caused the
deaths when he accidentally slammed the car into a tree in eastern Cuba.
Payá and Cepero were passengers. Carromero and Swedish politician Jens
Aron Modig survived.

A Cuban court sentenced Carromero to four years in prison for vehicular
homicide. He returned to Spain in December under a bilateral agreement
that allows each country's citizens to serve sentences in their own country.

Carromero now says his rented car was rammed from behind and forced to
crash by a red vehicle with government license plates, and that he had
been followed by state security vehicles from the time the four men left

A bipartisan group of six U.S. senators signed a letter earlier this
week requesting that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a
part of the Organization of American States, investigate the deaths.

"Recent interviews published in Spanish news media indicate that…
Carromero is innocent and that the vehicle carrying Payá was
deliberately attacked by Cuban government officials," said the letter.

Sent to ICHR executive secretary Emilio Alvarez Icaza, it was signed by
Sens. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, his Republican counterpart
Marco Rubio, Arizona Republican John McCain, Democrat Bob Menendez of
New Jersey, Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia and Illinois Republican
Mark Kirk.

"Oswaldo Payá was a brave man trying to peacefully advocate for greater
political freedoms for his Cuban brothers and sisters," the letter
noted. "It increasingly looks like he paid for that effort with this life.

"His memory and family deserve an honest and independent accounting of
what happened," the senators concluded.

Payá's relatives have repeatedly demanded an independent investigation
of the crash, and several Spanish and other European politicians, mostly
conservatives, have followed suit.

His daughter, Rosa Maria, has said the family might also file a lawsuit
against Cuba in Spanish courts because her father had Spanish citizenship.

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