Police officers acquitted of sexual abuse at women’s migrant center

Málaga court rules there is insufficient evidence to corroborate witness’s testimony

AGENCIES
A police officer inspects the now-closed Málaga migrant holding center.
A police officer inspects the now-closed Málaga migrant holding center.GARCÍA-SANTOS

Five National Police officers have been acquitted by Málaga’s provincial court of sexual abusing women at an immigrant holding center (CIE) in the city during the summer of 2006.

In a decision made public on Wednesday, a judges’ panel considered it proven that the officers had organized late-night parties at the CIE with food, alcohol and music between June and July 2006.

The officers brought the women cigarettes, chocolates and perfume, and even “took photographs” with them

However, the court said there was not enough evidence to demonstrate that sexual abuse was committed or that the officers made lecherous advances towards the women.

During the parties, which were held outside the rooms where the women were staying, the officers brought them cigarettes, chocolates and perfume, and even “took photographs” with them and allowed them to use their cellphones.

The dinners and parties “were a totally improper practice and should have been prevented by the defendants, as well as their superiors, who of course could face administrative sanctions,” according to the judges.

“But there is not enough evidence in any of these cases to corroborate if sexual abuse actually took place,” the panel wrote.

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Five officers, who faced prison terms of between two and 10 years, were put on trial in Málaga in October 2013 charged with sexual abuse with consent.

The case was filed after one of the women agreed to testify as a protected witness.

Prosecutors argued that while the women may have agreed to have had sexual relations with the officers, the practice went against the police code of conduct. During the proceedings, charges were dropped against one of the defendants.

On May 15, the court ordered sentencing in the case.

The case gained the attention of Andalucía Acoge, an NGO that protects and supports the rights of illegal migrants in Spain, which asked for prison sentences for the men.

The court said it would turn over the ruling to National Police headquarters so that it could determine whether to take disciplinary measures against the officers.

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