Launch of book marks the tenth anniversary of the events leading to the '4F Case' 4.2.16


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Today a book launch will mark a decade since the events that led to what is known as the '4F Case' (Caso 4F) took place, in which four people were imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. Three of them were tortured by the police during their detention and one subsequently committed suicide.


On 4 February 2006, the Guardia Urbana (municipal police) arrived at a party in a squatted theatre in Barcelona. A flowerpot was thrown from a balcony, seriously injuring a police officer. The response from the authorities, unable to find the guilty party, was "to mount a case blaming innocent people who were not in the house and some not even in the vicinity." [1]

Four people were subsequently sent to prison, one of whom, Patricia Heras, committed suicide in April 2011. Three of the four were tortured whilst in police custody, events which were subsequntly taken up in an Amnesty report. [2] The two police officers who served as key witnesses in the 4F case were subsequently found guilty, in a seperate case, of torture, false testimony and planting evidence. No-one has been punished for their part in the 4F case.

The book, 'Dead City: Chronicle of the 4F Case' (Ciutat Morta: crónica del caso 4F), will be launched in Barcelona as part of the ongoing campaign to let the truth be known about what happened in the case. As the publishers put it: "This book is the result of a collective dream: that the terrible events that unfolded in Barcelona from 4 February 2006 are part of the history of the city that cannot be forgotten." [3]

Silvia Vilullas, a lawyer and friend of Patricia Heras, told the newspaper Diagonal in an interview that she still thinks the case can be re-opened and justice done:

"Are there possibilities to reopen the 4F Case?

I am keeping an eye out for the appearance of any piece of evidence on the part of the Police, the Council or some third person that would allow the case to be reopened. My hope is that they will change the methods of the Police and the Guardia Urbana, and be more transparent. I hope that the agents won't act as one group and won't be afraid of denouncing criminal practices carried out by their colleagues. As regards the judges, if there are proceedings that have weaknesses, that they will judge them on what they see and make clear their shoddiness. And as for the Council, I hope that in this moment of political transparency [a new party has led the Council since May 2015] they will open proceedings in which they will look for those responsible, and publicly recognise and apologise to the victims - who have been us, amongst others.

Do you believe that the new municipal government will act differently?

I have faith that it will do so. In the Council there are people that have actively participated in social movements, such as Jaume Asens and Ada Colau. At the close of the electoral campaign in Catalunya Square, Colau said that she did not want a city in which things such as those that happened to Patricia Heras took place. If at the close of their campaign a political party takes the name of Patricia Heras, there is a need to be coherent and do something so that it doesn't happen again. Also a formal recognition... I hope that they will apologise or make a gesture. If not, they will have become complicit." [4]

A documentary, Ciutat Morta, tells the story of the case and can be watched online: English subtitles or Spanish subtitles (links to YouTube).

[1] 'Dismantling the 4F case', Desmontaje 4F
[2] Amnesty International, 'Spain: Adding insult to injury. The effective impunity of police officers in cases of torture and other ill-treatment', 2007
[3] '10 años del 4F: presentación del libro “Ciutat Morta, crónica del caso 4F"', Desmontaje 4F
[4] '"Si el Ayuntamiento no pide perdón, será cómplice de lo que pasó"', Diagonal, 4 February 2016

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