Social Issues

Spanish prosecutors archive probe into Melilla border tragedy

Madrid, Dec 23 (EFE).- Spain’s state prosecutor’s office has archived an investigation into the deaths of at least 23 migrants on the border between Melilla and Africa after finding no criminal evidence in the actions of Spanish border agents.

The coordinating prosecutor for foreign affairs Beatriz Sánchez found no evidence of reckless homicide nor neglect of duty, according to the archived document made public Friday.

State prosecutors opened an investigation into the tragedy on June 28, four days after at least 23 people died in a frenzied border breach attempt from Moroccan territory.

Investigators collected testimony from migrants and border agents and analyzed footage and audio of the event.

The only official data on the deaths and the causes of death are those provided by Moroccan authorities to the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

Spanish state prosecutors said the crowd of 700 to 800 migrants who tried to rush the border on the day of the tragedy was “hostile and violent” toward both the Moroccan and Spanish border agents.

According to state prosecutors, the Spanish agents were unaware of the crush that took place at the border fence.

Spain’s ombudsman in October said Spanish border agents had carried out 470 illegal pushbacks on the day of the mass border crossing attempt, but prosecutors found them to be lawful.

The prosecutors office has referred several police agents for allegedly throwing rocks at migrants trying to breach the border.

The tragedy put the spotlight on Spain’s handling of migration in its North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla, which are frequently the scenes of mass breaches.

Amnesty International believes as many as 37 people were killed in the June crossing attempt. EFE


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