BAYAMO, Cuba (AP) — A Spanish man held in Cuba went on trial Friday in connection with a car crash in which a prominent dissident was killed, and several government opponents were detained in the eastern city were the proceedings were taking place.
Angel Carromero arrived in the morning at a courthouse in Bayamo, about 500 miles (800 kilometers) east of the capital and near the site of the July 22 highway crash in which Oswaldo Paya and another dissident, Harold Cepero, died.
Carromero is charged with the equivalent of vehicular manslaughter and could face up to 10 years under Cuban law.
"We will see how it all comes out. We are optimistic," said Spanish consul Tomas Rodriguez, who was observing the trial.
Pro-government bloggers in Bayamo reported that dissident writer Yoani Sanchez was detained by local authorities shortly before arriving in the city. Calls to her cell phone went unanswered, but human rights monitor Elizardo Sanchez in Havana confirmed the detentions of Sanchez; her husband, Reinaldo Escobar; and a third man in the vehicle.
Yoani and Elizardo Sanchez are not related.
Carromero, who is affiliated with a youth wing of Spain's ruling conservative party, and Swede Aron Modig, also a political activist in his home country, had traveled to Cuba to support the island's dissident community, people are branded traitors and mercenaries by the Cuban government.
They were driving to eastern Cuba with Paya and Cepero in the back seats when the crash happened. The Europeans, who were in the front and wearing seatbelts, were not seriously injured.
Authorities say Carromero was speeding. In videotaped statements he said he lost control upon driving into an unpaved section of road, and the vehicle skidded into a tree.
Modig returned to Sweden a little over a week after the accident.
Associated Press writer Andrea Rodriguez in Havana contributed to this report.