Police officers suspected of part in prisoner's death
4 August 2005, MADRID – Eight police officers in southern Spain are under investigation for causing the death of a man in custody.
4 August 2005
MADRID – Eight police officers in southern Spain are under investigation for causing the death of a man in custody.
On Thursday, about 200 people attended the funeral of Juan Martinez Galdeano in his home town of Roquetas de Mar in Almería.
Galdeano died on 24 July after going to his local police station to report an argument he had had after a traffic accident.
Following his death, the General Management of the Civil Guard suspended the deputy in charge of the station at Roquetas on suspicion that illegal violence was used, including the use of electrical truncheons.
On Thursday, after phonecalls with Spain's president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, defence minister José Bono and interior minister José Antonio Alonso decided the seven other officers would also be suspended for six months pending the judicial investigations.
The decision came after judge Estefanía López Muñoz began hearing evidence the previous day from three of the nine officers involved in the case, as part of a judicial inquiry.
The judge heard that when Galdeano arrived to report the argument, officers decided to test him for alcohol. According to the police, Galdeano became emotional and suffered a panic attack.
He became violent towards officers, they said, and had to be arrested by force.
When they took him to a patrol car to take him to the municipal police station for the alcohol test, he again became violent and appeared to suffer a heart attack.
The police took him to hospital but he died en route.
Three officers were injured in the struggle and had to receive medical attention for bites and fractured fingers.
Lawyer José Ramón Cantalejo, however, said Galdeano's autopsy showed he died from asphyxia, not a heart attack. There was, he said, a "causal relationship between his death and his arrest".
The autopsy also revealed, for the first time, according to the lawyer, that "the victim's feet were tied up, not just his hands".
The officers used illegal methods to control the suspect, insisted Cantalejo.
However, the officers' lawyer Gustavo Arduán Pérez argued Galdeano's death was due to "an accumulation of totally unfortunate circumstances", but "not from the aggression" of the police.
Pérez said Galdeano was at times extremely violent and that officers tied his feet and hands "to avoid him harming himself and the officers".
The lawyer also said the court was still waiting for a definitive autopsy which would shed more light on the cause of death.
On Thursday, the government insisted it would be unflinching in getting to the bottom of the case. Interior minister Jose Antonio Alonso promised to update Congress on the progress of the inquiries around 17 August.
Vice-president Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, who is on a state visit to Chile, said the government would take all necessary steps to ensure this "never happens again".
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news