Cuba dissident's widow seeks independent probe

AFP , Wednesday 1 Aug 2012

Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya's cause of death last week--following a car accident in which a Swedish national has been charged for vehicular homicide--is questioned by his wife as she cites political incentives

The widow of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya called Wednesday for an independent probe into his death, saying she is skeptical of the government's assertion that he was killed in a traffic accident.

"My family is calling on the relevant international institutions to conduct an investigation, independent of the Cuban government, into his death," Paya's widow Ofelia Acevedo, told reporters, flanked by her daughter Rosa Maria Paya.

"I'm not accusing anyone and I'm not pointing a finger. I simply want someone to explain the exactly what happened, because I've had a lifetime of threats, repression, and intimidation against my family," she said.

Cuban officials late last week issued a report blaming excessive speed for the crash that claimed the life of Acevedo's late husband and another passenger in the rental car.

The car's two other occupants, rights activists Angel Carromero from Spain and Jens Aron Modig of Sweden, were treated at a hospital for injuries. Carromero has been charged with vehicular homicide in the case.

Authorities have said that the high rate of speed, coupled with the fact that the car was driving on an unpaved road, led the driver, Carromero, to lose control and crash into a tree.

But Acevedo said she continued to believe that a second car forced the vehicle carrying her husband off the road.

"We don't accept their version of events," Acevedo said, alleging that her husband's life had been threatened numerous times over the years by Cuban security organizations.

Paya, 60, a former winner of the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov Prize, which is awarded for defending human rights, did not survive the 22 July car accident near the city of Bayamo, in southeastern Cuba.

A fervent Catholic, he was best known for presenting the Cuban parliament in 2002 with a petition signed by 11,000 people demanding political change in the communist state. The initiative became known as the Varela Project.

In Washington meanwhile, the US Senate resolution passed Wednesday praising "the life and exemplary leadership" of Paya, and echoed his widow's call for an impartial, third-party investigation into his death.

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