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Human rights body finds Cuban gov’t responsible in 2012 deaths of dissidents

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HAVANA (Reuters) – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has found the Cuban government responsible in the deaths of democracy activists Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero in a 2012 car accident, saying it had concluded that state agents were involved in the incident.

The commission’s report, released on Monday, also said the government had violated the two men’s rights to life, honour and freedom of expression.

It said the commission had “identified sufficient serious evidence to conclude that State agents had been involved in the deaths of Payá and Cepero”.

Cuba did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment on the report´s findings. The commission said it had presented the report to the government on May 11 but to date had not received a response.

Friends, family and fellow dissidents, as well as international human rights groups, have long accused the Cuban government of causing the crash, a charge it denies.

The accident outraged rights groups and democracy activists. Cuba prosecuted and convicted the car’s driver, Angel Carromero, for reckless driving and has since considered the case closed.

“In particular, the Commission took into consideration Carromero’s testimony — confirmed by an eyewitness — noting that the vehicle had been hit by an official car,” the report said.

The report says that Cepero and Paya, then among the most important leaders of Cuba’s small opposition community, had previously been subjected to violence, harassment, threats and attempted murder ahead of the car crash.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), a group the Cuban government brands an imperialist instrument of the United States.

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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