UN must probe death of Cuban dissident Paya: petition

The United Nations should investigate the death of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, his daughter said Tuesday, handing over a petition to the world body and claiming her father had been murdered by the Cuban regime.

"They say that my father died in a car accident, but we have confirmed ... that they were actually crashed into and run off the road by another vehicle," Rosa Maria Paya told reporters in Geneva.

She was in the Swiss city to address the UN Human Rights Council Tuesday and to hand over an open letter and petition addressed to UN chief Ban Ki-moon and his human rights chief Navi Pillay demanding "an international and independent investigation" into Paya's death.

"Mounting and credible allegations that the Cuban government may have been complicit in the murder of its most prominent critic ... cannot go ignored by the international community," read the petition, signed by 46 politicians, members of parliament and human rights activists from around the world.

The Cuban mission in Geneva flatly rejected the claim, insisting in comments sent to AFP that Rosa Maria Paya was an agent working for the United States and its agenda, according to Havana, of "regime change" in Cuba.

Paya meanwhile said she was hoping to convince the diplomats in Geneva to table a resolution clearing the way for a UN-backed probe into her father's death, but acknowledged that she had only just begun her lobbying and had yet to receive official backing from any countries.

She and her brothers have been demanding an independent investigation since their father and another dissident, Harold Cepero Escalante, were killed last July 22 in a car crash.

She insisted Tuesday that more evidence had surfaced that her father had been murdered, pointing to an interview given by the driver of the crashed vehicle, 27-year-old Spanish conservative youth leader Angel Carromero, to the Washington Post earlier this month maintaining that the car had been hit from behind and run off the road.

Paya said she had also obtained mobile phone text messages sent right after the crash by Carromero and fellow crash survivor Jens Aron Modig, a Swedish political activist, that showed another car had slammed into them.

A Cuban official who asked not to be identified told AFP this was a lie, insisting that both Carromero and Modig had lost consciousness after the crash and could not have sent any text messages.

Carromero's account to the Post directly contradicts the official Cuban findings that he had been speeding and slammed into a tree.

He was sentenced to four years in prison for his alleged role in causing the fatal crash but after several months was transferred to Spain where he is serving out the sentence.

Carromero's interview also contradicts a video tape released by Cuban authorities a week after the crash, where he stated that the car had not been hit from behind, as well as Modig's statement at a government-organised press conference that he did not recall a second vehicle.