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“They put me against the wall, throw me to the ground and hit me with truncheons”

Interior of the Madrid VII Penitentiary Center, in the town of Estremera.EFE

“When I get there, I meet more officials, and they order me to take things out of my pockets to search me. I take my things off and they put me against the wall to search me, and then they throw me on the ground and hit me with the truncheons ”. On September 10, Patxi FU, a 39-year-old prisoner with a history of entering the prison dating back to the end of 1998, told two people in charge of the Estremera prison (Madrid) about the alleged mistreatment he had suffered. the day before at the hands of officials. His case is investigated by the Court of Instruction 1 of Arganda del Rey, by the Ministry of the Interior – which has filed the seven officials involved – and by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, of the Council of Europe. EL PAÍS has had access to part of the research documentation.

The event that led to the complaint began at around 4.30 pm on September 9, after Patxi F. could not prove that he owned the television set in his cell and an official took it away from him. However, the versions about what happened from that moment on are disparate. The officials claim that the prisoner went an hour later to the cabin where the officials were and began to hit the windows. “Given the manifestly aggressive attitude of the inmate, they proceed to separate him from the rest of the inmates for his search in the room”, the part of the officials collects. The prisoner, however, affirms that he went to the cabin to “talk” with them and that, since they did not want to, he went to the patio. “After half an hour, the officer and a female officer enter the courtyard and order me to accompany them, going to the search room of the module.”

The version of what happened in that room – which does not have video surveillance cameras – is also very different. The officials assure that “during the search, the inmate kicks a table, overturning it against the officials present there, while simultaneously making the following threats: ‘You bitches are going to find out who I am. Do not mess with me. This is not going to be free. I shit on your fucking dead ”. Always according to that part, the officials reduced Patxi “using the minimum necessary force.” The document does not include the use of any coercive means. The inmate, however, claims that he was pushed to the ground and beaten. After that, he claims that he was handcuffed. “Did you put up any resistance at any time?” They asked him during interrogation. “No, none,” he assured.

After being reduced, Patxi F. was transferred to the isolation module where, at 6:50 p.m., he underwent a medical examination. The doctor picked up the part that presented “pain in the fingertip” and “slight hyperemia [enrojecimiento] on both wrists without abrasions or wounds ”. He was given a pain reliever. However, the next day, when another official was transferring him to a cell, he noticed that the prisoner was limping and asked why. The inmate assures that he told him what happened the day before: “And I showed him the marks that he had on his buttocks and on his leg.” That same day, Patxi F. underwent a new medical examination in which hematomas were seen on the left thigh, the soles of both feet and the buttocks, as well as “erosions on both wrists.”

Interior opened an internal investigation that included the viewing of security camera recordings. According to prison sources, the images show the entry into the search room of up to seven officials. In a second report prepared by the officials on September 16, they reaffirmed in their account of the alleged aggressiveness of the prisoner to justify the use of “restraint handcuffs without the prior authorization of the head of services.” This document still does not mention the alleged use of rubber fenders.

A spokesman for Penitentiary Institutions has declined to comment on what happened as the event was under judicial investigation and recalled that of the 128 complaints of mistreatment filed by inmates last year, “113 have already been filed. We are the first interested in that the prisons do not have an unpunished environment, “he added. For his part, José Ramón López, president of the Acaip-UGT union, the majority among prison officials, demands “that the facts be clarified, but at the same time that there are no ‘prior trials or convictions.”

The Council of Europe also declined to give details about the report prepared by the delegation of its Committee for the Prevention of Torture that visited, between September 13 and 28, 19 detention centers in Spain, including the Estremera prison. According to several prison sources, there they collected the prisoner’s testimony and subjected him to a forensic report in which they took photographs of his injuries. A spokesperson for this body limited himself to assuring that they had sent “preliminary observations” to the Spanish authorities, without specifying whether they spoke of the event in the Madrid prison.