SPAIN’S main opposition Popular Party (PP) has called on Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska (pictured above) to be sacked over the Melilla migrant tragedy in June, which left 23 dead and scores more unaccounted for.
The calls came on Tuesday after a group of lawmakers travelled to the North African exclave city the day before to inspect Civil Guard video of the events of June 24, when thousands of would-be migrants stormed the border between Morocco and Spain in an attempt to reach Spanish soil.
There has been renewed focus on the events of that day since the BBC last week released a documentary that questioned the Spanish government’s official account of events. The Africa Eye program concluded that not only had some of the migrants died on the Spanish side of the border, but also that the Spanish authorities offered no medical assistance to those injured in the crush that ensued as the migrants came over the border fence.
“Better he go today than tomorrow,” said the PP’s national coordinator, Elías Bendodo, in comments reported by Spanish daily El Mundo.
Bendod said that “if bodies were taken from the Spanish border to the Moroccan side, as we have all been able to see in the images,” then that means that Marlaska “has lied” and should be relieved of his position immediately.
The PP initially opposed a commission to investigate the June events at the Melilla border but has changed its position since the BBC documentary was released.
During the visit on Monday by lawmakers to Melilla, the Civil Guard admitted firing 86 tear gas canisters at the migrants. Witness accounts after the tragedy reported that some of the victims were suffocated by the gas, while others were killed in the crush caused as the migrants tried to escape its effects.
Videos and images of the bodies of the migrants shared by a Moroccan human rights NGO, among other sources, shocked the world in the days after the tragedy.
The Spanish government has defended the actions of the authorities during the June incident, with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez calling the assault by the migrants on the border station as “an attack on the territorial integrity” of Spain, blaming “mafias who traffic in human beings”.
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