The Ombudsman has questioned the version of the Ministry of the Interior on the Melilla tragedy. Ángel Gabilondo’s team considers that the official images, to which he has accessed, show that the Civil Guard was aware of the “risky situation” in which the migrants, most of them Sudanese refugees, found themselves, who were “crowded” and , in some cases, “crushed” at the access door to the Spanish side at the Barrio Chino border crossing, as detailed in the preliminary report that the agency has published in full.
The institution forcefully contradicts the explanations provided by the Interior and considers that the Civil Guard should have been aware of the danger in which hundreds of migrants and refugees were during the avalanche generated at the Chinatown border post on June 24. However, the Ombudsman emphasizes that there is no evidence that the Spanish authorities provided them with aid or health care.
According to the document, dated October 14, the Ministry had defended before the Ombudsman that the State Security Forces and Corps “had no record, nor did they observe directly, nor through the border perimeter, the situation of risk to the that these people exposed themselves.”
According to the Secretary of State for Security’s response to the Ombudsman’s request for information, when the Civil Guard managed to gain access to the interior of the border post, “they did not find injured or deceased persons, because at that time, the Moroccan security forces had managed to neutralize the attempted entry by force, as well as clearing the access road to the facilities on the Spanish side”.
After viewing the images, especially those captured by the helicopter, the Ombudsman considers these statements to be false. “They cannot be shared by said institution”, settles the preliminary text. The official videos show that “an undetermined number of people are crowded together and, in several cases, crushed at one of the accesses to the “Chinese Quarter” border post.”
At minute 7:42, the Moroccan agents begin to access the interior of the border post, people crowd at the other end of the access and an avalanche occurs, describes the account of the events of the institution. At minute 7:43, “they force one of the doors, but there are already many people crowded together: they try to free each other.” At that moment, when the refugees are already on top of each other forming a funnel, no one helps them but “canisters of smoke continue to be launched”. At 7:44 a.m., they step on each other. Moroccan agents are already up to the task at the border post, the report says.
“The images captured by the drone and the fence camera reveal the dangerous situation that developed and about which the agents who participated in the operation should have had constant information. Therefore, it is not plausible that there was no knowledge of the risk situation, ”affects the Ombudsman.
Stones towards the top of the fence
The videos prove, according to the institution, that Civil Guard agents threw stones at the migrants who were at the top of the Melilla fence. “The throwing of stones by both parties and the fact that some Spanish agents sprayed them with a spray could intensify the dangerous situation,” he stresses.
The Ombudsman details that in several recordings “people who try to access irregularly throw sticks at the Spanish agents”, to which they respond “with stones”. In another moment of the images, “some Spanish agents look for stones and throw them at the people who are at the top of the fence.”
The images captured by the drone also show two bodies – it is unknown if they are injured or lifeless – on the road, “without the images showing that they receive health care.””. The Ombudsman reproaches the Interior that “no information has been provided regarding the moment in which the intervention of the health services or the Red Cross was requested.” However, the helicopter recordings show an ambulance stopped on the road some distance from the Civil Guard vehicles. “The video ends at 9:15 a.m., the ambulance does not intervene at any time.”
These preliminary conclusions will be completed by the Ombudsman with a report that he is already preparing after the last response from the Interior received last week. The latest revealed details add to the recommendations that he had already communicated publicly in mid-October. Then, the Ombudsman highlighted that the Interior failed to comply with the law in the 470 returns made by the Civil Guard during the jump over the Melilla fence on June 24 in which at least 23 people died, according to the progress of the first results of your research. That day, the migrants held on the Spanish side of the fence were returned by the agents in an action defended by Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska. Ángel Gabilondo’s team reminded the Executive that “border rejections” must follow an individualized procedure.