HRF in the News — HRF Reports on Oswaldo Paya’s Death
EFE on the findings of HRF's new legal report about the mysterious death of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá in 2012.
A report prepared by the Human Rights Foundation and published Wednesday says that evidence gathered to date in the case of Cuban dissident leader Oswaldo Paya "suggests" the "direct responsibility" of the Cuban government for his death.
The report, compiled by lawyers for the non-governmental human rights defense organization, comes on the third anniversary of Paya's death in a car crash, an accident in which fellow dissident Harold Cepero also died.
The car the men were riding in, which was being driven by Spaniard Angel Carromero on a Cuban highway, hit a tree, killing the two dissidents.
Rosa Maria Paya, the daughter of the head of the Christian Liberation Movement, was present at the presentation of the New York-based HRF's report in Washington.
"The power in Havana believed it was necessary to destroy my father. But this report will be an important tool against the impunity of that power," said the daughter of the activist.
The document collects testimony and discusses physical evidence that were uncovered "in the months after the incident" and which were not considered by the court that convicted Carromero and sentenced him to four years in prison.
The report says that the "evidence, which was deliberately ignored, strongly suggests that the events of July 22, 2012 were not an accident, but instead the result of a car crash directly caused by agents of the state."
"Specifically, the evidence suggests that their deaths were the result of a car crash directly caused by agents of the state, acting with the intent to kill Oswaldo Paya and the passengers in the vehicle (in which) he was riding, with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm to them, or with reckless or depraved indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to their lives," said HRF general counsel Javier El-Hage.
El-Hage said that there is solid evidence that the car in which Paya and Cepero were riding was crashed into by another car, although it is not clear whether the two men died upon impact or whether they were pulled from the car and then beaten to death by the people in the other car.
The report also says that the Cuban government violated the rights of the Paya family by not allowing them to participate in the investigation and the trial, as well as the rights of Carromero to have access to an adequate legal defense.
Carromero, a youth leader with Spain's governing Popular Party, was sentenced to four years in a Cuban prison for vehicular homicide but an agreement between Madrid and Havana allowed him to serve his sentence in his homeland, and he was released on parole last May.
Since the accident, the Paya family has always questioned the government version of the crash and has demanded an independent investigation.