Cuban authorities have detained 22 activists—including blogger and regime critic Yoani Sanchez—as the trial of a Spanish politician charged with vehicular manslaughter in the July death of a prominent dissident gets underway.
Cuban authorities arrested 22 opposition activists, including a prize-winning blogger, as the trial of a Spanish politician accused of vehicular manslaughter got underway in Bayamo in eastern Cuba on Friday.
Among those arrested in the round-up was Yoani Sanchez, a 37-year-old writer who has been one of the Cuban regime’s most outspoken critics since 2007, when she started her blog “Generacion Y”, which is often critical of the Cuban government.
The arrests coincided with the start of the trial of Angel Carromero, 27, a Spanish politician who runs the youth wing of his country's ruling Popular Party.
Carromero has been charged with death of prominent Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, who was killed when the car Carromero was driving went off the road and into a tree on July 22. Authorities allege he was speeding.
Carromero's trial is expected to last just one day. He faces up to ten years in prison.
Paya, 60, a long-time opponent of Cuba’s Communist one-party rule, died along with another Cuban dissident who was riding in the rented car.
Pro-government website Yohandry reported Friday: "The pro-American blogger Yoani Sanchez was arrested today in the city of Bayamo, where she had travelled with the intention of creating a provocation and a media show at Carromero's trial.”
Last week, Sanchez filed a complaint against Cuba with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission saying the authorities there had repeatedly refused to give her permission to leave the country and that she has been unable to leave Cuba since 2007.
In her complaint, Sanchez - who was arrested along with her husband – claimed both had been harassed by the Cuban government, according to her lawyers.
Also arrested was opposition leader Guillermo Farinas, 50, who is famous for having staged numerous hunger strikes.
Like Paya, he is also a past winner of the prestigious Sakharov prize - the European parliament's human rights award.
Date created : 2012-10-05