(changes dateline, re-ledes with Spanish gov't view)


Spain's Foreign Ministry is in contact with Cuban authorities with the aim of quickly repatriating Spanish citizen Angel Carromero, who was sentenced to four years in jail for a car crash that claimed the lives of prominent dissident Oswaldo Paya and an associate, officials here told Efe on Monday.

Carromero, the 27-year-old leader of a youth group in Spain's governing Popular Party, was convicted of negligent homicide.

The sentence has opened a new scenario and all options will be studied with the Cuban authorities, sources in the Spanish Foreign Ministry said.

The Spanish government can seek the application of the 1998 bilateral accord that would allow Carromero to serve his sentence in Spain.

Now that the sentence is known, it is up to the governments to "hold talks so the repatriation can take place as quickly as possible," Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said last week.

He and Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez discussed the case last month when both men were in New York for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry has hopes that Carromero will be allowed to return freely to Madrid, following the example of the Spanish businessman and jounalist Sebastian Martinez Ferrate, released in January after 17 months behind bars in Cuba.

Martinez Ferrate was arrested in July 2010 upon arriving in Havana on a business trip, because in 2008 he had used a hidden camera to make a report about underage prostitution on the island.

In August 2011 he was tried and sentenced to seven years in prison for corruption of minors, though he always maintained his innocence.

Carromero's sentence was less than the seven years sought by prosecutors during his Oct. 5 trial in the eastern city of Bayamo, a legal proceeding described as "clean" by the consul general of Spain on the island, Tomas Rodriguez Pantoja.

Carromero was at the wheel of the rental car that crashed on July 22 near Bayamo.

Riding in the car was Paya, 60, and fellow dissident Harold Cepero, who died when it crashed into a tree.

Another of the passengers was Swedish political activist Jens Aron Modig, who like Carromero suffered slight injuries and who was authorized to leave the island several days later.

Paya was the promoter of the Varela Project, which he presented to Cuba's legislature in 2002 along with some 11,000 signatures to propose a referendum on a democratic and peaceful transition on the Communist-ruled island.

The petition was rejected by the regime, but Paya emerged as the leading advocate of peaceful democratic change in Cuba.

Paya's family has always questioned the official version of the traffic accident and did not file a criminal complaint against Carromero.

After hearing the sentence, Ofelia Acevedo, Paya's widow, told Efe in Havana that she hopes Carromero doesn't have to serve his sentence in Cuba.

"For me, Angel should have gone home a long time ago. Maybe he won't have to serve the sentence in Cuba and he'll be expelled from the country," she said. EFE