Cuba blamed a car accident that killed leading Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya on the driver’s loss of control on Friday, alleging that the driver braked abruptly on a slippery surface while speeding.
“Lack of attention to control of the vehicle, excess velocity and the incorrect decision to abruptly apply the brakes on a slippery surface were the causes that resulted in this tragic accident,” the Cuban Ministry of the Interior said.
The government statement — the most detailed yet on the accident — made no mention of another vehicle.
It cited three witnesses, including the driver, to back up its conclusion on the cause of the accident.
The driver, Angel Carromero, a 27-year-old from Spain, has been in police custody since the accident and has made no public comment.
A second survivor, 27 year-old Jens Aron Modig of Sweden, was being held at an immigration -detention center in Havana, Swedish officials said.
Paya, 60, winner of the European Parliament’s 2002 Sakharov prize, died along with Harold Cepero Escalante, a 31-year-old Cuban dissident, in the crash.
According to the government, the rented vehicle that Carromero was driving was barreling down the highway “at an average speed above 120kph,” even though the maximum highway speed was 60kph.
Carromero then hit a patch of gravel on the road near the town of Bayamo in southeastern Cuba and slammed on the brakes. The car slid off the road and crashed into a tree.
Paya’s daughter, 23-year-old Rosa Maria Paya, questioned the official Cuban account of her father’s death in an impassioned statement delivered at her father’s funeral on Wednesday before an audience that included leaders of Cuba’s Roman Catholic church.