SPAIN-MOROCCO: Court orders re-opening of 'El Tarajal' case into deaths in the waters around Ceuta


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A court in Cádiz, southern Spain, has ordered the re-opening of the 'El Tarajal' case regarding 15 people who drowned in February 2015 after attempting to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by sea and were repelled with rubber bullets and smoke grenades by officers from the Guardia Civil.

The case was shelved in October 2015 after a court in Ceuta decided that the migrants, who departed from El Tarajal beach along with some 200 others and attempted to swim around the fence that separates Ceuta from Morrocan territory, "were not persons in danger in the sea" in the sense given in the UN Convention on Safety of Life at Sea because "they assumed the risk of illegally entering Spanish territory by swimming at sea."

It ruled that responsibility for the deaths could not be allocated to any of the 16 Guardia Civil officers who were accused of murder and causing injury, saying that they had employed the weaponry with "dissuasive effect" and that "there does not exist any indication that would make it possible to conclude that the accused agents used the material inadequately."

The Audencia Provincial in Cádiz, however, stated on Thursday (12 January) that there are survivors who were never called as witnesses and that the forensic investigations undertaken on the bodies of the dead were "unnecessarily rushed", although there is now no possibility of undertaking further examinations of the corpses.

The court is also demanding that contact be made with the judicial authorities in Morocco, from whom assistance was sought three times previously but without any response.

See also: Spanish court reopens probe into drowning of 15 migrants (Yahoo! News, link)

And: Spanish court orders reopening of investigations into brutal 2014 Ceuta police action (ECCHR, link):

"At least 15 people died and several more were injured in February 2014 during an operation by the Guardia Civil, Spain’s paramilitary police force, at the border between Morocco and the Spanish exclave of Ceuta. On 12 January 2017 the Audiencia Provincial regional court in Ceuta ordered the reopening of investigations into officials involved in the deadly push-backs."

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