Prosecutor absolves Spanish forces over Melilla migrant deaths

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Spain’s public prosecutor said Friday it had closed an investigation into the deaths of at least 23 African migrants who tried to storm a Spanish enclave from Morocco in June.

The Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta have long been a magnet for people fleeing violence and poverty across Africa, seeking refuge via the continent’s only land borders with the European Union.

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On June 24 dozens died while trying to cross into Melilla. Morocco put the death toll at 23 while Amnesty International and independent experts gave a figure of 37 in the worst recorded toll in years.

But after investigating the incident, Spain’s prosecution service said Friday there would be no follow-up because it had found no signs of criminal activity by Spain’s security forces.

It branded the migrants “constantly hostile and violent” towards Moroccan and Spanish police and concluded that Spanish police were unaware that people in the crowd needed medical help.

Up to 2,000 migrants stormed the high fence that seals off Melilla from Morocco, according to Spanish authorities, and engaged in a two-hour skirmish with border officers.

While scores succeeded in reaching the Spanish territory, dozens were killed in a crush while others died from falling from the fence.

The prosecutor urged Spanish authorities to implement a better procedure to allow migrants to file asylum applications rather than attempting to cross the border illegally.

In a report this month, London-based Amnesty International denounced both countries for “carnage” in the incident, criticizing what it called “massive killings, forced disappearances, acts of torture, discrimination and racism.”

It claimed migrants were hit with tear gas, pelted with stones, and beaten and kicked while on the ground.

The Spanish interior ministry rejected the report, saying it contained “false assertions.”

Read more:

Morocco arrests 32 migrants heading to Spain, jails 80

Spain broke law returning migrants to Morocco amid deadly border crossing: Ombudsman

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