2 Nov, 2022 @ 18:45
1 min read

BBC documentary about Spanish border tragedy prompts fresh calls from political parties for explanations

Melilla migrant deaths
A screenshot of one of the videos from the attempt to rush the Melilla border in June 2022.

A DOCUMENTARY from the BBC about the tragic migrant deaths in June this year at the border between Morocco and the Spanish city of Melilla has prompted fresh calls from political parties for a proper investigation into what happened.

The BBC’s program, called “Death on the Border”, examined dozens of videos from the attempt by hundreds of would-be migrants to rush the border on June 24.

At least 23 people were left dead during the attempt to scale the fence and reach Spanish soil, while scores more are still unaccounted for.

According to the BBC’s findings, the Spanish authorities watched and did nothing to prevent the deaths of the migrants. The documentary also draws attention to a fragment of video in which one of the bodies appears to have been dragged from the Spanish side of the border to the Moroccan side.

Videos of the aftermath of the attempt to rush the border showed the lifeless bodies of dozens of the migrants laid out on the floor, images that shocked the world.

The BBC’s version of events contradicts the account offered by the Spanish Interior Ministry, which has always denied that the Moroccan police officers were allowed to enter Spanish territory to expel the migrants, when the law states that they should be processed by Spain if they make it across the border.

In response to the BBC documentary, the ministry once again praised the work of the Civil Guard that day, claiming the actions were “proportional” and “firm” in the face of a “violent assault on our territorial integrity”.

But today even Unidas Podemos, which is the coalition partner of the Socialist Party, called for the government to clarify exactly what happened in Melilla. Speaking on the Onda Cero radio station, Unidas Podemos spokesperson Jaume Asens claimed that Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska “is not behaving like a progressive minister”.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Popular Party (PP) called on Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to clarify whether he knew about the order to “drag the bodies from one border to the other”.

The leader of centre-right Ciudadanos, Inés Arrimadas, argued today that if the Socialist Party and Unidas Podemos were in opposition right now, and not in government, they would be “burning down the streets” over the tragedy in the wake of the BBC’s documentary.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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