The two local police officers convicted of torturing and injuring a Senegalese street vendor in January 2011 in a shopping center in the municipality of Mogán, in the south of Gran Canaria, have already entered prison to begin serving their sentence. Gilberto Julián Macías, with a criminal record for sexist violence, entered the Juan Grande prison, on the same island, on Friday, May 5. Three days later Carlos Javier Hernández did so in the small La Palma penitentiary, located in the urban area of the capital and with a capacity for about 60 inmates.
The ruling, firm since March 15, considered it proven that these two agents seriously and repeatedly assaulted the migrant after a chase through the Puerto Rico shopping center, violating his moral integrity and causing a fracture in his left arm. The Supreme Court, however, reduced the penalties that the Provincial Court of Las Palmas had imposed on them in 2021 due to the excessive duration of the procedure. From the initial seven and a half years in prison to four years and eight months and from ten years of special disqualification to nine.
The convicted police officers never received a sanction from the Mogán City Council. They were not even opened a disciplinary file. Neither when the facts became known, with the Popular Party (PP) of Francisco González in government, nor in the successive legal milestones that occurred with the current mayoress and candidate of the Canary Islands Coalition for the regional Parliament, Onalia Bueno (then with Ciuca , now in Juntos por Mogán, an ally of CC), in power: the opening of the oral trial and the formulation of the accusations (2017), the first conviction of the Court of Las Palmas (2021) and the confirmation of the Supreme Court ( 2023).
One of the agents, Gilberto Julián Macías, has been out of service for years for other reasons. However, Carlos Javier Hernández has continued to be active without interruption until he entered prison. His police identification number continued to appear until last Sunday in the service sheets that collect the organization of the work of the Mogán Local Police. Those documents stated that this agent was “on leave”. The City Council of the southern town has not answered the questions formulated by this newsroom about the employment situation in which this policeman found himself after the sentence became final in March.
When the attack reached the media with the dissemination of a video captured by the video surveillance cameras of a supermarket in the shopping center, Mencey Navarro, then an opposition councilor in the City Council with Ciuca and now first deputy mayor and responsible mayor , among others, from the Citizen Security area, requested the holding of a plenary session to demand the opening of a disciplinary file against the two agents, who held the status of investigated. That session ended up being held in 2014, a year late due to the councilor’s refusal to call it. “Mr. (Francisco) González (mayor at that time) is the only one who has serious doubts about what is seen there (in the video), but it is evident and indisputable that the images show a real attack on a Senegalese citizen” , said at that moment the current number two of the moganera corporation.
However, after assuming government functions after the elections held in May 2015, Ciuca did nothing of what the previous mayor had been required to do a year earlier. One of the agents involved, Carlos Javier Hernández, son of a former PP councilor and a municipal police officer, was even promoted to officer in January 2022 and, ten months later, decorated with the distinctive cross of active permanence. in the service for twenty years. Some acknowledgments that came when he had already been sentenced in the first instance by the Provincial Court of Las Palmas.
The final judgment of the Supreme Court was made public on March 21 of this year. Two days later, a general negotiating table was held at the Mogán City Council in which UGT requested the opening of a disciplinary file for the only agent still active, Carlos Javier Hernández. There was also no response from councilor Mencey Navarro, who urged to request it “by other means.”
UGT contrasts this case with what happened in 2018, when the government led by Onalia Bueno suspended four local police officers from employment and salary for six months, including a union representative, for executing a seal the day after initially planned, a decision that they adopted in order not to disturb the order in the premises, since the first day the owner had refused when the establishment was full. Ciuca then denied that this sanction was due to political reasons and that it was a “strictly administrative procedure, regulated by law.” The truth is that this suspension was finally annulled by the courts for lack of justification.
For the agents convicted of torture and injuries, the City Council did not even open a file in these more than ten years, despite the fact that article 47 of the Local Police Coordination Law qualifies as a very serious offense in the third section the abuse of powers and “the practice of inhuman, degrading, discriminatory or vexatious treatment of the people who are in their custody.”
For this criminal procedure, in addition, the City Council contracted for 15,000 euros the services of the law firm of the renowned criminal lawyer José Antonio Choclán, the same one who defends the mayoress in the cases in which she remains accused. The claim was not only to free the Southern Consistory from subsidiary civil liability, that is, from the obligation to assume the payment of compensation to the victim in the event that the convicted agents could not face it. He also requested the acquittal of the agents of the crime of torture of which they were accused and that the injury be changed from serious to minor, thus reducing the sentences to a minimum. He didn’t make it.
The convicted policemen received the requirement for voluntary entry into prison on April 27. One of them, Carlos Javier Hernández, requested the provisional suspension, alleging that an appeal for amparo had been filed with the Constitutional Court and also a request for pardon. The First Section of the Provincial Court of Las Palmas rejected this claim and the agent has already entered prison.
At the end of April, a letter requesting signatures in support of the pardon of the convicted policeman began to circulate in the Mogán City Council. In that document, which also moved through other administrations and environments, Carlos Javier Hernández was spoken of as “an exemplary citizen” who had always had “impeccable behavior” and that the events for which he was convicted had been “something exceptional” in his professional career and occurred twelve years ago. “It makes no sense for him to go to prison now to serve a sentence that no longer serves its purpose, which makes him deserving of said grace”, collects that letter that also denied having discriminated against a person based on sex, race, religion or nationality and that he pointed out that the policeman collaborated with his parish and non-profit associations.
The agent himself spread that letter among his contacts with messages in which he asked for the signature to send it to his law firm in order to present the application.
The conviction of the two policemen was based on the recordings captured by a video surveillance camera from a supermarket in the shopping center and on the statements provided by the victim and various witnesses, including other agents. In the images, one of the attackers, Gilberto Julián Macías, can be seen chasing the street vendor, tripping him until he falls, and punching him several times inside that establishment. The beatings, always according to the story contained in the sentences, continued to the police stations located in the same shopping center while the migrant, who had been called as a witness for an incident involving a cousin of his and the same agents, claimed the help of the Civil Guard. Both the victim and witnesses stated that Carlos Javier Hernández hit him with a blunt object, similar to a baton, which could have caused his arm to be broken. The court concluded that the agents acted in this way as “retaliation” for the activity he was engaged in (peddling) and to “intimidate” him in the trial in which he had to testify as a witness.