HAVANA — The car crash that claimed the life of leading Cuban opposition figure Oswaldo Paya was accidental, two Europeans who were in the vehicle at the time said at a press conference Monday.
Cuba's dissident community suspected another vehicle might have forced the one carrying Paya off the road, but the two surviving occupants told reporters that no other cars were involved.
"There was no other vehicle that struck us from behind," Spaniard Angel Carromero said in a video shown at the press conference organized by Cuban authorities.
Carromero was at the wheel at the time of the accident, which also killed a fourth occupant in the car, in addition to Paya.
"I was driving in an area (of road that was) in bad condition," and lost control, he said, despite "taking all the precautions that a driver should take under such circumstances."
The other crash survivor, Swedish political activist Jens Aron Modig, backed up that story in a live interview before reporters.
"I don't recall there being a second vehicle involved in the accident," he said.
Carromero also appealed to the international community to help him leave Cuba, where he and Modig have been detained since the accident.
"Beyond this prepared statement, I ask the international community to please focus on getting me out of here, and not to use a traffic accident that could have happened to anyone for political ends," he said.
He faces charges of traffic violations resulting in death, which can carry up to 10 years in prison under Cuba's penal code.
The rental car crashed in Bayamo, in eastern Cuba, on July 22, slamming into a tree.
Paya, 60, a leading opponent of the one-party rule of the Cuban Communist Party, was the 2002 recipient of the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov prize, which is awarded for defending human rights and freedom of thought.
His widow, Ofelia Acevedo last week rejected a government report that blamed the car crash on the driver. She also criticized officials for not allowing her to talk to Carromero and Modig, who had been kept in custody.
Paya's relatives had said they believed the rental car had been forced off the road by another vehicle.
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