Havana said Payá died in a car accident

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Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá was killed in a one-car crash caused by a Spanish politician who was driving too fast and slammed on the brakes too quickly, the Interior Ministry said Friday in the first official report on the accident.

The ministry’s report made no mention of allegations that another vehicle forced the car off the road and said Spanish politician Angel Carromero, who was driving, told police investigators that he lost control of the vehicle on a stretch of dirt road.

The report was the first official word on the cause of the accident that killed the 60-year-old Payá, a respected opposition activist and founder of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) and the Varela Project demanding basic freedoms.

Payá and MCL activist Harold Cepero died in a crash Sunday near the southeastern city of Bayamo. Carromero and Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig were slightly injured and remain detained in Cuba. They have made no public comment so far.

Payá’s wife, Ofelia Acevedo, and others have told journalists that the Europeans phoned MCL contacts in their own countries on Sunday to report they had crashed after their car was repeatedly rammed and forced off the road by another vehicle.

But the Interior Ministry report said four government investigators with 39 years of experience “concluded categorically” that the rented Hyundai Accent was traveling too fast when it hit a stretch of dirt road, slid sideways and smashed into a tree.

Carromero’s “lack of attention to his control of the car, the excess of speed and the erroneous decision to slam on the brakes on a slippery surface were the causes of this tragic accident that took the lives of two human beings,” the report said.

Payá’s family said it will not accept the government’s report, read on a Havana television news program at 1 p.m., until it can speak personally with the Europeans and hear their version of the crash.

“Nothing is clear for us. There’s a lot of things up in the air, and until we speak with the two foreigners we will not consider anything as definitive,” his son, Reynaldo Isaías, 20, told El Nuevo Herald by telephone from Cuba.

Havana human rights activist Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz said the official version of the crash is not convincing. “We will not know all the truth until the survivors can offer their own testimonies, in their own countries and without the pressure of the Cuban government,” he said.

The crash took place on a one-mile stretch of road, marked with a signal showing men at work, which was under repair and had been stripped of its asphalt surface, according to the report.

Capt. Jorge Fonseca Mendoza, a traffic accident investigator, concluded that Carromero slammed on the brakes 260 feet after his car went on the dirt and then slid for another 200 feet, “which confirms the extreme speed,” the report noted.

Carromero told police he did not recall seeing a sign warning of the construction ahead and did not know how fast he was moving when he left the asphalt, according to the report. When he hit the dirt, he “tried to slow down by slamming on the brakes and began to slide sideways until he hit the tree.”

Modig told investigators that he was snoozing when he felt the sudden brake and the sideways slide, “then lost consciousness,” the report added. It made no mention of any claims of another vehicle ramming them and running them off the road.

car-accident – Google News

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