Police force 'tried to hide' video evidence of violence

11th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 August 2005, MADRID – Spain's interior minister has admitted that a police force in Roquetas de Mar tried to hide video evidence which showed officers using violence.

11 August 2005

MADRID – Spain's interior minister has admitted that a police force in Roquetas de Mar tried to hide video evidence which showed officers using violence.

José Antonio Alonso made the admission to MPs in his report to them on Thursday on investigations into the death of 39-year-old farmer Juan Martinez Galdeano.

Alonso said Guardia Civil at the station in southern Spain did try to hide evidence during the early stages of inquiries into whether seven officers and a police deputy had beaten Galdeano.

The deputy, who was suspended from duties shortly afterwards, had been guilty of failing to cooperate with the police's internal inquiry, said Alonso. He had hidden the illegal use of arms and tried to ensure the video of the night of 24 July, when Galdeano died, never reached the judicial team.

Alonso also stated that the director of the Guardia Civil, Carlos Gomez Arruche, "made a mistake" when he commented on the case on 3 August.

Arruche has been criticised for trying to play down the importance of the alleged abuse at Roquetas and for defending the police deputy, insisting he had a clean record.

Alonso said Arruche "did everything he had to do" in investigating the abuse, but admitted that Arruche's comments were "unfortunate". In fact, Alonso told MPs, the deputy had been the subject of two previous complaints for abuse – one in July 2004 and another in February 2005 – but the judicial department filed the complaints and they weren't made know to the Guardia Civil's higher levels of management.

The interior minister said the government would take a "zero tolerance" approach if the judicial inquiry, which could last several more weeks, finally shows abuse took place in Roquetas.

"The fact that a single, isolated case takes place is unacceptable," he added.

He announced inspections at police stations would be increased by 30 percent, with 30 percent more inspectors to carry them out.

Alonso's statement to Congress comes the day after the judicial inquiry heard the latest forensic evidence. That evidence on Thursday morning became the subject of controversy after the revelation that page seven of one of the reports had never been transmitted to the court and that the judge handling the case had reportedly suffered a panic attack.

The page missing included a paragraph which detailed the force necessary to have broken Galdeano's breastbone. Since Galdeano was a young man, the breaking of the bone would have required "the intervention of a significant force".

On Thursday evening and Friday morning, judge Estefania Lopez Munoz and court authorities denied she has suffered a panic attack, stating she had had a gynaecological problem. They said the missing page was due to a fax error and said it would be sent to the court in full.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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