No lives were lost on Spanish soil, said Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who rejected accusations against the country’s security forces that insist they failed to prevent dozens of migrant deaths including one on Spanish soil during the Melilla tragedy.
Grande-Marlaska (PSOE/S&D) appeared before Parliament to shed light on the tragedy that occurred in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on 24 June, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.
At least 23 people died in June after migrants stormed the border fence separating its north African enclave of Melilla from Morocco.
On Tuesday, the European Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, criticised Spain for its handling of the massive jump of the Melilla fence, and insisted that it should not contribute to the human rights violations committed by Morocco, EFE reported.
A joint investigation by EL PAÍS, Lighthouse Reports, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and Enass, published on Tuesday disclosed new details about the events through the analysis of more than 140 videos, 40 interviews and a 3D reconstruction of the “Barrio Chino” (Chinatown) border post, where the tragic events took place.
Videos showing victims being dragged away suggest there was at least one death on Spanish soil. However, Grande-Marlaska rejected this version and reiterated that nobody died on Spanish soil.
“There was no loss of human life on national territory,” he insisted.
Marlaska reiterated that “the events took place mainly in Moroccan territory.” At all times he referred to them as “events in Nador” (the Moroccan border city, and not Melilla, Spanish soil). And he recalled the “violence” with which the migrants acted.
The events are being investigated by the Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Ombudsman. The Netherlands-based NGO Lighthouse Reports claims that some people were crushed on the Spanish side of the border, abandoned without medical attention and that some deaths occurred on Spanish soil.
This was the second time in seventy days that the Interior Minister had to appear before Parliament to provide more details of the events.
Centre-right Partido Popular (PP/EPP) accused him on Wednesday of “lying” and urged him to resign immediately. Additionally, left-wing Unidas Podemos (United We GUE-NGL) coalition partner of the PSOE (S&D) in the Spanish executive urged the Minister to provide more data and clarify the facts.
On 3 November, Grande-Marlaska rejected similar accusations after the documentary “Death on the Border” aired by the BBC showed shocking scenes from the events that unfolded in Spain’s North African enclave. Some clips showed dozens of people crowded in an area of the border post, some motionless, others distressed.
However, on Wednesday the Minister reiterated that the Spanish Civil Guard (military police) acted “proportionately, in accordance with the law and firmly” during the massive border breach.
He insisted that state security forces would continue to defend the borders of Spain “with the same professionalism, exemplary nature and commitment to legality.”
Following the incident in June, Spanish and Moroccan authorities defended their actions, citing migrant violence and the use of reasonable force to control the situation.
(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)
Source: Eura Ctiv