Spanish Police Accused Of Beating To Death Argentine Indignados Activist
CLARIN, C5N, MINUTOUNO, JORNADA DE CHUBUT (Argentina)
GIRONA - The son of a prominent Argentinian businessman who lived as a squatter and participated in the Indignados movement in Spain died recently in this city north of Barcelona. His family insists that Juan Pablo Torroija died after Spanish police inflicted a brutal beating, while Spanish authorities say suicide was the cause of death, Clarin reported.
Torroija, 41, died on July 14, but the Argentinian consulate was never notified. His family desperately searched for him until last Saturday, when they discovered that he had been dead for two weeks and that his body was in the morgue in Girona in northern Spain.
In an interview with Argentinian television station C5N, Omar Torroija, Juan Pablo's father, said: "This isn't a case of beating, this is torture by way of beating and strangulation," Minutouno reported. Omar Torroija continued, saying "We still have not been able to see the body. It is very easy to say that there was a suicide and then to close the case. But I don't know anyone who is able to strangle themselves all alone."
Torroija, whose father owns a chain of clothing and household stores in Argentina, had been living as a squatter in Spain for the past seven years. He had left Argentina with a young woman with whom he had a daughter, now seven years old.
As the Indignados movement spread throughout Spain, Torroija and other squatters were evicted and started to be persecuted by the police, according to the Jornada de Chubut, the local newspaper in Torroija's home region of Chubut. That his when he decided to go to Girona.
Then, on July 11, the local police arrested him in the street and beat him brutally, says his father. He was then taken to the police station and later to the Josep Trueta hospital, in central Girona. At the time of admission, he had bruises on his ribs and arms and signs of suffocation. He died at the hospital.
Omar Torroija says that his son was in perfect health when he was arrested on the morning of July 11, but he was taken to the hospital that same evening and died on July 14.
The local police and courts say that Torroija died in the hospital after a suicide attempt, but his family firmly believes he was killed by the police. The Argentinian consulate in Barcelona has demanded that the Spanish justice system investigate the circumstances around Torroija's death. As part of that request, the consul general requested that Torroija's body not be buried until a full investigation can be done.