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Cuba releases report on crash that killed dissident

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN
July 31, 2012 -- Updated 1515 GMT (2315 HKT)
  • Cuba's Interior Ministry Friday released report on crash that killed prominent Cuban dissident
  • Oswaldo Paya died in car crash Sunday, officials say
  • Earlier, Paya's family said that it was not an accident, but that Paya had been targeted

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- A report released by Cuba's Interior Ministry Friday blamed a Spanish politician for the car crash on Sunday that killed Oswaldo Paya, a prominent Cuban dissident and indicated he could face criminal charges.

Earlier Paya's family had cast doubt on the government's assertion that the crash was the result of an accident and said they believed Paya had been targeted.

Paya was traveling with another Cuban dissident Harold Cepero, Spanish politician Angel Carromero and Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig when the rental car they were driving in crashed Sunday near Las Gabinas, Cuba.

Read more about how the details of the crash are disputed

The Cuban interior ministry report said that the crash took place when Carromero, the driver of the rental car, failed to slow down as the car reached a section of road being repaired.

The report quoted witnesses as saying the car was traveling more than 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph) when it lost control, went off the road and crashed into a tree.

The report noted that it is against the law in Cuba to drive above 60 kilometers per hour on an unpaved road and to lose control of a vehicle.

Spain's Embassy in Havana had earlier said Carromero was behind the wheel when the crash occurred and that Carromero, was mentally traumatized by the accident.

Neither Paya nor Cepero were wearing seatbelts, the statement said. Paya died immediately, the statement said, and Cepero passed away after being brought to a nearby hospital.

Jens Aron Modig told police, according to the report, that he was dozing off at the time of the accident and woke as the car was going off the road only to lose conciousness as the car crashed.

Read more about dozens reported arrested on way to Cuban dissident's funeral

Carromero told police, the report said, that he had not seen any signs warning of the roadwork and was not aware of how fast he was driving when he hit the brakes.

Both men were released from the hospital a day after the crash and have been questioned for several days by Cuban police.

Neither has spoken publicly about the accident that took the life of Paya, a longtime critic of the Cuban government.

Paya most famously organized "the Varela Project," a campaign that collected thousands of signatures calling for changes to Cuba's one-party socialist system of government.

While Cuban leaders took little notice of the campaign, Paya's work generated international acclaim and he was the recipient of awards celebrating his work promoting human rights.

The U.S. State Department called on the Cuban government to carry out a transparent investigation into Paya's death.

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