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Silence from the authorities after a death in custody in Girona
Por DIAGONAL English

By D. F. (Setmanari La Directa / Translated by Robert Dyas and Susana Macías Pascua

The family of Juan Pablo T., 41 years old, have yet to hear anything concrete about the circumstances of his death. They became aware of his demise 14 days after the event. Up until then they were under the impression he was a missing person. On Monday 30th July, they arrived in Barcelona from Argentina after several days of fruitless searching for their loved one, born 24th July in La Plata, Argentina. They knew that his family had lived for 7 years in Girona. On the 11th July, Juan Pablo entered the police station alive having being detained violently in the street. Today, his parents are here to collect his body. The information available is still very confused and the events may have taken place up to 18 days ago. According to the version of the family, after he was detained, the victim was transferred to the station of the Mossos d’Esquadra (pan-Catalonian police force) in Vista Alegre, Girona. This contrasts with the information received from the Mossos communications department which claims that the detention and subsequent internment of the victim were carried out by the municipal police force in Girona. According to La Directa, the official municipal police version is that Juan Pablo T. was detained in Emili Grahit street after a pursuit. He was accused of stealing a car and transferred to the police station.

Once in the cell, according to the Girona municipal police, Juan Pablo tried to hang himself with his t-shirt, an act apparently recorded by videocameras. The officers tried to revive him while contacting the ambulance service who managed to stabilise him upon their arrival and transfer him to Trueta hospital. The municipal police justify the lack of information given to the family by claiming that “he was alive when he left the station” and that the responsibility of communicating the death lay with the health services or with the judge, under instruction number 4, that records the cause of death. This version was published by Diari de Girona (local newspaper) on 12th July.

A family without information and contradictory reports

Hours after the detention, some friends of Juan Pablo arrived at the station to enquire as to his situation. They were informed that he had been transferred to Trueta hospital having tried to hang himself. One friend went to the hospital where the doctors told him the damage caused by asphyxiation was irreversible and he feared for Juan Pablo’s life. The friend was the only person to have seen him after the arrest and he states that the body of Juan Pablo had multiple wounds and bruises on the head, ribs, arms, neck and generally showed signs of having been beaten.

Juan Pablo T. was admitted in the hospital at 4:32 am on 11th July, in an ambulance coming from the police station. He died on 14th July. An undertaker removed his body the next day at 12:50 pm. The death of the detainee was not mentioned anywhere and his family in Argentina was not informed.

According to the family, the police also neglected to contact the Argentinean diplomacy corps in the Spanish State, to whom they are required to report the arrests of their citizens. The first news received by the Consulate of Argentina in Barcelona was the claim of the family.

Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and Argentinean pro-human rights organizations such as The Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS, in the Spanish abbreviation) or the Coordinating Committee for Human Rights (CDDHH) from the National University of Lanus in Argentina (UNLA) have already communicated their support to the family. In addition, the Committee for Prevention and Criminal Complaint of Torture (CPDT) is also placed at the family’s disposal.

Third death held in custody during 2012

On 1st January, Sergio E.C., aged 34, died in a ICU room of the Hospital of Manresa (Barcelona), where he was admitted after being arrested by the Mossos d’Esquadra on the 30th December. His family reported that he had been assaulted by the police, fact that was denied by Felip Puig, Interior minister of the Generalitat. Only five days later, Idrissa Dialo, a 21-year-old Guinean youth who was imprisoned in the CIE (detention centre for foreigners) of the Zona Franca (Barcelona) –where the National Police Corp holds custody- died due to lack of medical care.

Similar events happened on 31st August 2011 in Manresa, when a local young man, arrested by the Mossos as he was escaping from the police because his papers were not in order, went into a coma whilst being held in police custody in the Hospital of Sant Joan de Deu of Manresa. After several days, Mustafa El Marrachki passed away. The official police version claimed it had been a suicide, but the family always maintained that it is practically impossible for “a person who is arrested, handcuffed and held in police custody in a hospital to attempt suicide without anyone noticing it and intervening”. On 23rd September 2011, half a million people gathered together in Manresa to demand “Truth and Justice”.

[This article was originally published in Catalan on August 22nd, 2012]





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