Secrecy Shrouds Upcoming Trial in the Case of Oswaldo Paya’s Death / Yoani Sanchez

The “100 y Aldabo” police station in Havana where Andres Carromero is being held / ALEJANDRO ERNESTO (EFE)

We know that the trial of Angel Carromero — the Spaniard who was driving the car in when Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero were killed — will be held in Bayamo, 450 miles east of Havana. But we still don’t know when it will begin. Although Friday, August 31, was mentioned, the fact is that there has been no official notification. Diplomatic sources expect that the trial “will be held soon, but for now, there’s no date.”

The leader of the youth wing of the Spanish People’s Party (PP) is charged with reckless homicide and the prosecutor has asked for a prison sentence of seven years. According the official Cuban media version, Carromero was responsible for the accident that killed the two Cuban dissidents on July 22. The island press release stressed that Carromero was supposedly speeding on a road under repair and that this was the principle cause of his losing control of the car and hitting a tree.

Thus, he will be judged based on Article 177 of the current Penal Code, where it establishes that “the driver of a vehicle who, while breaking the laws and regulations governing transportation causes the death of a person, incurs the penalty of privation of liberty of from one to ten years.”

Nevertheless, the family of the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement does not accept the official explanation of the facts and has asked for an independent investigation.

Since the prosecution’s sentencing request was announced a few weeks ago, Carromero’s case has entered a stage of maximum discretion on the parts of both the Cubans and the Spanish, who have maintained silence with regards to the press. Various diplomatic sources consulted preferred to continue that reserve and remain “silent until the trial.”

The Spanish government is hoping that once the trial is concluded, Havana will expel the young politican or follow the treaty between the two governments regarding the serving of sentences. In that case, Carromero could serve his time in Spanish territory. However, we are far from knowing the final outcome.

It is likely that the ruling will not be disseminated immediately after the trial, but be delayed until after sentencing, which would mean waiting several days before knowing the outcome. Already, he has been in custody 40 days since the incident occurred.

Amid such secrecy, it is very difficult to confirm when the trial at the Granma Provincial Court will begin. I traveled there this Thursday and can confirm that, as August 31 dawned over Bayamo, the city appeared quiet. The early hours of the day began, in the heat of August, with the preparations for the start of the school year.

Numerous news agencies have traveled to Bayamo, intending to attend the trial, but it’s likely it will be held behind closed doors. Several passersby interviewed were unaware the trial was going to be held at the court there. However, they seemed to be aware of the events of July 22 which took the lives of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize winner, Oswaldo Paya, and his colleague in the struggle Harold Cepero.

Given the political background of the Carromero case, there is a visible anticipation in the international community and among island’s dissident activists as to what may happen in this case — quite complex and surrounded by questions.

31 August 2012