Cuba: Spanish rightist sentenced in dissident’s death

Cuban television announced on Oct. 15 that a court in the eastern province of Granma had found Spanish national Angel Francisco Carromero Barrios guilty of causing an automobile accident that killed the well-known dissident Oswaldo Payá and another dissident, Harold Cepero, on July 22. Carromero, the leader of the New Generations youth movement of Spain's governing right-wing Popular Party (PP), had been visiting Payá and was driving the dissidents in a rented car when the accident occurred. Prosecutors charged that Carromero had been speeding, while the defense blamed the condition of the road and a lack of warning signs. The court sentenced Carromero to four years in prison instead of the seven years requested by the prosecution. Spain's consul in Cuba, Tomás Rodríguez, described the trial as "clean, open and procedurally impeccable."

Cuba's criminal code leaves open the possibility that Carromero might be able to return to Spain before he has finished serving the full sentence, and there is speculation that the Cuban and Spanish governments might make a deal. Relations between the governments were tense after the PP took power in elections last November, but the situation seems to have improved. Spanish foreign minister José María García-Margallo met with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodríguez, in New York during the opening of the United Nations General Assembly at the end of September; the Carromero case was reportedly one of the issues they discussed. (La Jornada, Mexico, Oct. 16, from correspondent)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct 21.