15 Feb, 2024 @ 15:09
5 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: Terrifying moment expat brothers are arrested inside their own flat in Spain after the SQUATTERS they kicked out called in police

TWO expat brothers claim they have been let down by Spanish police as a horrifying two-month ordeal with violent squatters remains unresolved.

Siarhei and Aleh Pakrouski, originally from Belarus, have lived in Barcelona since 2015.

The Olive Press has received exclusive access to videos, photos, police documents and medical reports that support an ongoing story of violence, broken bones, intimidation, theft, police incompetence and legislative injustice.

A flat owned by Aleh, 35, remains occupied more than six weeks after first being targeted.

The Olive Press has seen official documents which confirm that Aleh is the flat’s owner. 

Siarhei and Aleh Pakrouski, brothers originally from Belarus, have had their properties targeted by squatters in Barcelona. Copyright: Olive Press

Meanwhile, the brothers await trial for allegedly attacking the squatters – known as ‘okupas’ – whilst seeking to defend their property.

Siarhei, 29, told the Olive Press: “I’m a normal person who is paying a mortgage and had to work really hard who could now end up going to jail”.

He believes that the squatters who have targeted him and his brother’s properties are “criminals and thieves who take advantage of stupid laws”. 

They hope that telling their story will help others in a similar position, aid the recovery of their flat, and kickstart a debate about whether squatting legislation in Spain should be changed.

Two properties targeted

Siarhei and Aleh have owned two flats in the same apartment building in the Barcelona neighbourhood of El Raval since 2018. 

On December 31, 2023, Aleh’s flat was successfully occupied by squatters, whilst attempts to squat Siarhei’s apartment proved unsuccessful.

Squatting properties is a problem across Spain, normally involving disputes with tenants who overstay the period of their rental contracts.

However, the two brothers insist that they had never met their squatters before, let alone had any form of housing arrangement with them.

After police were called, the squatters promised the pair that they would leave the following day.

Despite this, the next day the brothers claim they were attacked with knives by the group on the staircase of the apartment complex.

The altercation left Aleh with a small gash on his face caused by a knife, and a broken nose which required medical attention.

An altercation with the squatters left Aleh Pakrouski with a broken nose that required medical attention. Copyright: Olive Press

According to the brothers, Barcelona’s police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, were uninterested in the attack, instead informing the duo that they should head to a police station in order to press charges.

Although they had keys for the flat, they were unable to gain access as the gang of squatters had changed the door. In fact the front door had been removed, with the bathroom door of the property put in its place, ensuring that the brothers could not use their own key.

Photos shared with the Olive Press show the temporary door that the squatters used in order to prevent the brothers from re-gaining access.

One week later, having found a time when the flat was unoccupied, the Pakrouski’s were able to recover possession of the property.

A photo showing the temporary door used by the squatters. Copyright: Olive Press
The bathroom door was installed after okupas removed the original front door to prevent the brothers regaining access. Copyright: Olive Press

When the squatters returned, they tried to get inside the property, albeit to no avail as the brothers had changed the lock.

However, officers from the Mossos d’Esquadra arrived shortly after.

A video obtained by the Olive Press shows Mossos officers entering the flat despite being informed by the brothers that they are the property’s owners.

The brothers were subsequently arrested.

A source from the Mossos told the Olive Press that the pair were only arrested because they caused a minor injury by attacking one of the squatters with a hammer, an allegation which the brothers deny, not as part of a question as to whether they owned the property or not.

Likewise, this newspaper was informed that disputes over possession of a property are a judicial matter instead of a policing matter, and that who owns the property is of no interest to the police.

However, video evidence suggests that this dispute played a role in the motives behind the brothers’ arrest.

In a six-minute-long clip, a Mossos officer says: “We are entering because this is the residence of other people”, “It is not your residence”, “We have been called because other people live here”, “The people that live here are a man and a pregnant woman” and “Even though you may be the owners of the property, this is the home of those who have occupied it”.

The pair are also threatened by the unnamed officer, who tells them that they “will be punished” if they use the video. 

Police documents seen by the Olive Press, which formalise the reasons behind the brothers’ arrest, also make explicit reference to the squatting quarrel.

Arrest reports for both Siarhei and Aleh Parouski state that reasons for arrest included “accessing the residence of the victim without their consent”, “threatening the victims so that they left their home”, “changing the lock of the door and causing damage”, and “taking the law into their own hands”. 

The brothers have also claimed that the police used a disproportionate use of force during the arrest.

The pair allege that they were struck in the back by knees and elbows, choked, and had their wrists damaged by extremely tight handcuffs.

A photo taken of Siarhei’s wrists two days after he and his brother were arrested. Copyright: Olive Press

Documents seen by the Olive Press confirm that Siarhei, who used to work in finance, sought medical attention following his release due to scarring and nerve damage caused by the handcuffs. 

Okupas ‘preferential treatment’

The brothers also feel aggrieved at what they view as preferential treatment given to the okupas by Mossos officers, a claim which the Mossos refute.

“It still makes me sick to remember sitting inside the police car handcuffed and bleeding, whilst watching the cops helping those scumbags carry their things back into our flat”, said Siarhei.

During their two-day stay in a police cell, Siarhei and Aleh believe that the squatters made use of a backpack belonging to the brothers that was left behind in the property.

The backpack included a set of keys for Siarhei’s property, located within the same block of flats. 

Two members of the group of alleged squatters. Copyright: Olive Press

After release, the duo made their way to Siarhei’s apartment, which they believe was robbed by the group of okupas.

According to an official complaint filed with police, items with a combined value of over €800 were missing from the apartment, including €335 in cash, a BBVA bank card, Aleh’s foreign identity card (NIE), a Calvin Klein jacket and a Prava wallet. 

Given that the apartment had no signs of damage or forced entry, the pair suspect that the squatters in Aleh’s flat used the keys to gain entry before stealing the items.

Six weeks after initially being squatted, Aleh’s flat remains occupied by the group, with attempts regularly made to violently seize Siarhei’s property. 

According to the brothers, any attempt to regain Aleh’s flat proves futile as the group of squatters threaten the pair with knives.

Despite calling the 112 emergency hotline on numerous occasions, none of the squatters have been arrested.

The brothers believe that the forthcoming judicial process, both in terms of their arrest and seeking to recover possession of the flat, could take over a year. 

They told the Olive Press that the squatters were invited to testify over alleged minor injuries inflicted by the duo, but failed to turn up.

Siarhei, frustrated and worn out by the ongoing saga, said: “Me and my brother might end up in jail simply for protecting what belongs to us”.

READ MORE:

Additional reporting: Walter Finch

Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to [email protected]

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