Cuba Charges Spaniard in Death of Dissident Oswaldo Payá

Cuba is charging a Spaniard with manslaughter for the car crash that killed prominent dissident Oswaldo Paya and another government opponent, state media said Tuesday.

Angel Carromero, a Spanish citizen, was behind the wheel of the car that was carrying Paya when it crashed July 22. He "has been accused of the charge of homicide while driving a vehicle on public roads," Communist Party newspaper Granma said.

Under the penal code, a person convicted of violating traffic laws or rules resulting in the death of another can be sentenced to one to 10 years in prison.

Controversy has surrounded Paya's death. His daughter, Rosa Maria Paya, told the Miami Herald that the car carrying her father was run off the road by a second car, a charge the Cuban government denies.

Members of the Cuban exile community in Miami, along with politicians including presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have called for a transparent investigation into the crash that killed Paya.

In videotaped testimony played for journalists Monday, Carromero said he lost control of the car when it suddenly entered an unpaved area of road under construction and he slammed on the brakes, causing it to skid.

An investigation found that Carromero was speeding and failed to heed traffic signs warning of the construction, and Cuban authorities had hinted that charges might be forthcoming. Another dissident, Harold Cepero, also died in the crash.

A spokeswoman for Spain's Foreign Ministry said her ministry had not received any notification of a change in Carromero's status. She spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department policy.

Granma said Carromero and Swedish citizen Jens Aron Modig entered the country July 19 on tourist visas. Both are affiliated with conservative political parties in their home countries and have said they came to Cuba to bring 4,000 euros ($4,900) to Paya and help organize dissident youth wings.

Cuba's government considers the small opposition groups to be subversive, and objects to foreign-based efforts to support them.

Granma said Tuesday that Modig has been allowed to return to Sweden "in spite of the illegal activities he carried out and the violation of his migratory status."

Presented to foreign journalists the previous day, Modig apologized for his conduct.

"I understand that these activities are not legal in Cuba and I would like to apologize for having come to this country to realize illicit activities," he said, according to a Spanish translation of his comments.

A spokesman for his party said later that Modig had been cleared to travel and would soon do so.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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