Expatica news

Madrid metro apologises for keeping assaults secret

25 April 2008

MADRID – Punched, kicked, insulted. That is the treatment at least four people received from security guards working on the Madrid subway lines in a shocking case of abuse of authority, which has triggered a criminal investigation and apologies from city officials in charge of the public-run transport network.

The assaults became public this week after El Pais obtained video footage of the attacks apparently filmed by the guards themselves.

Metro de Madrid – the company that operates the city’s subway system – and the private security firms the company hire have admitted knowledge of the assaults.

Metro’s representatives say the guards involved, who apparently filmed the attacks on cellphones as some sort of sick joke, have been fired. They also apologised for not initiating criminal proceedings. The videos – they admitted – had been in their possession since the middle of 2007.

"I humbly apologise for Metro de Madrid’s mistake in not informing the police about the assaults," Madrid regional Premier Esperanza Aguirre said yesterday.

So far none of the victims, all of them men apparently travelling alone, have come forward or filed charges.

In one of the videos, a group of security guards can be seen surrounding a man. One of them, a dark, muscular man, knocks the passenger to the ground. He warns him not to get up before kicking him in the stomach.

In another video, a security guard runs up behind a man leaving a subway station and swats him across the head unprovoked, while the cameraman can be heard laughing.

More attacks
Two other videos show similar attacks. Three of them involve guards of Prosegur, while one shows a person in a Casesa uniform, another private security company.
Approximately 2,000 security guards from six different companies patrol Madrid’s subway system. The firms are subcontracted to provide security for passengers, but upon learning that the videos had been made public, they initially tried to wash its hands off the matter.

"We have no control over the security guards because they are not our workers," Javier García, Metro de Madrid’s director of security said. The public-run company said it received the videos anonymously in August and October and passed the case on to Prosegur and Casesa, who said the guards involved had been already fired.

[El Pais / VRT / Expatica]

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