16 Mar, 2024 @ 11:43
1 min read

Prison workers in Spain’s Catalunya region stage unprecedented protests after female chef killed by inmate


PRISON workers in Spain’s Catalunya region staged an unprecedented protest on Friday, to demand better working conditions in the wake of the shocking murder of a female chef by an inmate at the Mas d’Enric facility in Tarragona province. 

“We are all Nuria,” was the slogan chanted by the demonstrators yesterday in honour of their lost colleague, as they blocked off the access roads to a series of jails in the northwestern region, preventing staff from arriving to relieve the outgoing shifts. 

The protests, organised by prison unions, forced the authorities to confine some 5,000 inmates to their cells in six of the region’s jails.  

The prison workers have for months now been drawing attention to a rise in assaults by inmates as well as a growing sense of insecurity in the jails, according to Spanish press reports. 

The incident that sparked the demonstrations took place on Wednesday night, when a prisoner who has been named as Iulian O. grabbed a kitchen knife in Mas d’Enric prison and stabbed chef Nuria while she was in the cold storage room. He then used the same knife to take his own life. 

An investigation has been opened into the killing-suicide, with no theories so far shared by the authorities. 

Iulian O. was serving a murder sentence for having stabbed a prostitute to death in 2016, but was working in the kitchen due to good behaviour, according to Spanish daily El Pais

Among the demands of the prison workers are calls for more staff and for them to be classed as officers of the law, so that any assaults they suffer carry a greater punishment for the aggressor. 

These demands are being directed at the regional government, but come at a complicated time. This week the premier of Catalunya, Pere Aragones, called early elections for May 12, meaning that his party, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), will be swinging into campaign mode. 

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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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