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Freedom House Condemns Cuba’s Sentencing of Angel Carromero
Freedom House condemns the Cuban authorities for unjustly sentencing Spanish citizen Angel Carromero to four years in prison in a trial that lacked transparency and due process of law. Freedom House calls on the Cuban government to allow for an independent investigation and to release information to Spanish and Swedish authorities into the circumstances behind the suspicious car crash that killed prominent Cuban human rights activists Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, for which Carromero was found guilty of vehicular manslaughter on October 15.
Although officially declared to be public, Carromero’s trial was shrouded in secrecy. Dozens of activists were denied entrance, and popular Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez was detained while traveling to the city of Bayamo to cover the trial. These actions were part of a concerted effort by the Cuban government to suppress information surrounding the mysterious crash and prevent questioning of the official version of events.
The trial also lacked testimony from key witness Jens Aron Modig, who was a passenger in the car and survived with minor injuries. In a suspicious chain of events, Modig was released to his native Sweden quickly after stating that he was sleeping at the time of the crash and did not know how it occurred.
Payá’s family has continually questioned the Cuban government’s account of the accident, and has called for an independent investigation. They never filed charges against Carromero, and maintain that he is innocent.
Freedom House consistently places Cuba among the world’s most repressive societies. Cuba is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2012. The island nation also received the second-lowest ranking in Freedom on the Net, a study of internet freedom in 47 countries released in 2012.