A LEAKED video showing the death of an 18-year-old Moroccan teenager in care has raised questions over Spain’s youth detention system.
The family of Iliass Tahiri, killed at the hands of detention centre guards, have asked that the case be reopened to finally provide justice for what they consider ‘murder’.
The case was initially opened on July 1, 2019 when Tahiri died during an altercation at the Tierras de Oria detention centre in Almeria.
The newly-surfaced CCTV footage shows six guards restraining Tahiri and placing him faced down on a bed before kneeling on his lower back to apply hand and arm restraints.
It was as they were applying the abdominal restraint that he appeared to stop breathing.
A case was opened up at the time of the death but the verdict of ‘accidental death’ was given against the centre’s owners Ginso.
The decision was based entirely on whether the centre acted upon within its own guidelines and not whether the correct measures were used for that exact situation.
In a statement given to AFP at the time, a spokesperson from Ginso said: “The need for the restraint procedure was demonstrated (during the investigation) as was its correct application by staff who complied scrupulously with the protocol.”
They added that its use was ‘exceptional’ and only undertaken with the ‘minimum necessary force’.
However Iliass’ brother Anass, along with Andalucian Human Rights groups have called the initial verdict ‘appalling’ and have slammed the excessive use of force on a ‘clearly-overpowered teenager’.
“If you see the video, you’ll never believe it was accidental as the judge said,” explained Anass.
“The video shows how they killed him. It’s murder.”
Andalucia’s Human Rights Association (APDHA) is working alongside to overturn the case and bring charges to the company and the individuals involved.
It argues that not only was the force excessive, but the mechanical restraint method is inherently dangerous due to the unnatural pressure on the victim’s heart and lungs.
It also explained that the method is common among detention centres across Andalucia as a method of restraint or punishment.
It is not the first time controversial detention centre-owner Ginso has sparked debate.
The company owns four detention centres throughout Andalucia and has had numerous complaints made against it, including for other accidental deaths.
Francisco Fernandez Caparros, spokesman for APDHA, is now pushing for a change in the law to prevent the use of mechanical restraints.
“A swift and radical decision is needed that will end the use of mechanical restraints once and for all,” he said.
The case of Tahiri’s death eerily echoes the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.
In similar circumstances, Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for a total of eight minutes while restraining him, causing him to loose consciousness.