HAVANA – The visiting Spaniard who was driving the car that crashed and killed Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya said that what happened was a traffic accident and that they were not attacked by another vehicle.
“No vehicle hit us from behind, I was just driving and saw a pothole in the road and took the precautions any driver would take and put on the brakes a little bit. The car went out of control,” Angel Carromero said on a video shown here Monday to the foreign press.
The Spaniard, head of a youth group of Spain’s governing Popular Party, said he couldn’t remember exactly how fast he was driving at the time of the accident because he didn’t look at the speedometer, but that the last time he did so he was going 80 kilometers per hour (nearly 50 mph).
“I braked because I saw the change in the road, the pothole and the sand, and then I put on the brakes – I lost control of the car because we had come to a stretch that was all gravel, the steering didn’t work and I couldn’t control the car and now I don’t remember any more,” he said on the video.
“As for the news you let me read, I ask the international community to focus on getting me out of here and not to use a traffic accident that could happen to anyone for political purposes,” he said.
The video shown Monday to the international press also included a statement by Aron Modig from Sweden, who was injured in the accident.
“I have some vague memories of the accident because I had been sleeping for part of the trip, I mean, I was asleep before the accident and I also felt pretty stunned by the accident itself,” Modig said on the video.
The Swede’s first recollection of the crash was that “the car had gone out of control and was already off the road and heading for a tree, and from that moment everything is a blank.”
Carromero and Modig were traveling with Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero in a rented car, which the Spaniard was driving and which crashed on July 22 near Bayamo, a city about 800 kilometers (500 miles) east of Havana.
Paya and Cepero were killed while the two foreigners escaped with slight injuries.
Both young men are in custody in Cuba. The Spaniard is being held at a police station in Bayamo and the Swede by immigration authorities in Havana.
Cuban authorities blame speeding and other driver errors for the accident. EFE