Spain seeks to repatriate politician jailed in Cuba


THE SPANISH government is preparing a diplomatic offensive in an effort to secure the repatriation of a politician jailed in Cuba for his involvement in a car crash that killed two anti-Castro activists.

On Sunday, Cuba revealed that Ángel Carromero (27), a member of the conservative Popular Party’s youth wing, had been handed a four-year prison sentence for manslaughter.

In July, the hired car the Spaniard was driving crashed into a tree, killing Oswaldo Payá, a well-known critic of the Castro regime, and another dissident, Harold Cepero. The crash took place about 800km from Havana, in Bayamo. A third passenger, Jans Aron Modig, a Swedish politician, was lightly injured and flew home soon after making a televised apology for having travelled to Cuba to meet dissidents and give money to Mr Payá.

Mr Carromero, who was barely injured, was arrested for his part in the accident. However, the four-year sentence he received is much less than the seven years that the prosecuting attorney requested.

Spain’s foreign minister José Manuel García-a-Margallo said yesterday that if no appeal is lodged against the sentence within 10 days, his department will begin a “discreet diplomatic effort to ensure one of three outcomes: a pardon, expulsion, or the completion of the sentence in Spain”.

Spain’s governing Popular Party has traditionally had chilly relations with Cuba and after the accident, Havana accused Mr Carromero of plotting with dissidents to undermine the government.

Mr Payá’s family rejected the authorities’ claim that Mr Carromero had caused the accident by driving too fast and instead suggested that the Cuban government had a hand in the crash.

This is not the first time that the government of Mariano Rajoy has campaigned to repatriate one of its citizens from Cuba. In January, Madrid secured the release and return to Spain of journalist Sebastián Martínez-Ferraté, who spent a year and a half in a Cuban prison for allegedly “corrupting minors”.