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Cuban activist leader Oswaldo Paya died in car crash. Circumstances of death are in dispute.

Oswaldo Paya

Oswaldo Payá, an Cuban activist who spent decades trying to build a  movement the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) that would pressure the government of Fidel Castro to allow more freedom and human rights, died Sunday in a car crash in Bayamo, a city some 750 kilometers (460 miles) east of Havana.  He was 60.

Paya was founder and national coordinator of the MCL, and he was also winner of the European Parliament’s 2002 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Paya was an important force among Cuba’s internal opposition and notable for his long career of peaceful activism to bring democracy to the island.

Ofelia Acevedo, wife of deceased Paya, said Monday that the MCL “will continue its peaceful struggle” on the island on behalf of Cubans’ rights, “until all Cubans are granted the rights that are rightfully ours. That was the ideal my husband dedicated his life to until the day he died,” Acevedo said.

The circumstances of his death were in dispute.

Cuban officials said the crash, occurred when the driver lost control and hit a tree, killing Mr. Payá and another Cuban and injuring two passengers, one from Spain, the other from Sweden.

But some Cuban dissidents said witnesses saw another vehicle hit Mr. Payá’s.

One of  Paya´s  three children, Rosa Maria, 23, said in an interview that she did not believe the crash was an accident.  Rosa Maria said her family was still searching for details.