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Cuban dissident's family blames gov't for death

BAYAMO, Cuba -- The Cuban government is to blame for the death of human rights activist Oswaldo Paya, family members said Saturday as they called for the acquittal of the Spaniard charged in the case.

At a trial that began Friday, prosecutors have requested a seven-year jail term for Angel Carromero over the July 22 car crash that killed Paya, an award-winning pro-democracy dissident.

“I think (Spaniard Angel) Carromero should be acquitted. I don't believe the charges brought against him, nor do I believe the government's story,” Paya's widow Ofelia Acevedo told AFP as she visited the site where her husband lost his life.

“He is innocent,” Acevedo said of Carromero, who was driving when her husband's car hit a tree in an accident that killed the activist but not Carromero, 26, or Swedish activist Jens Aron Modig, 27.

Another Cuban dissident Harold Cepero, 31, was also killed in the crash.

Paya's daughter Rosa Maria Paya, and her brothers Osvaldo and Reinaldo are seeking an international investigation into the death of their father. He had won the European Parliament's top human rights award, the 2002 Sakharov prize, for opposing the Americas' only one-party Communist regime.

“My impression from this poorly run circus (of a trial) is that they (the government) have a lot to hide,” charged an emotional Rosa Maria Paya.

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In this Saturday, Oct. 6 photo, widow Ofelia Acevedo, right, is accompanied by her children near the tree that Oswaldo Paya crashed into last July, in Bayamo, Cuba. (AFP)

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