Naked, with a dirty mattress to lie on, without water or a bathroom and shut away in a pigeon loft with no roof that measured just three square meters. That’s how the police found a man in the Dos Hermanas neighborhood in Seville, where he was allegedly kept locked up by his brother, 76, and sister, 61. According to the police, the pair lived off his €1,000 a month pension. Both have been arrested, and the victim, a 59-year-old with mental problems, has been admitted to hospital.
The police have as yet been unable to determine how long Carlos, the victim, was locked up in the pigeon loft, where he was forced to use bottles and buckets to go to the toilet.
The pension paid to Carlos originated from his youth, when he was run over. The accident left him with brain damage, and he became known in Dos Hermanas by local residents, given his peculiar way of walking and permanent cigarette in his mouth.
But he never caused problems for his neighbors. “He was very well known,” explains a local, who preferred not to give his name. “We often used to see him around here and in the Town Hall square walking around. Then we stopped seeing him and they told us that he had been admitted.”
But Carlos had not been taken in to any such center. He was being kept locked up by his own siblings, members of a family with no resources apart from the pension, and inclined to some very anti-social behavior.
The discovery by the police of Carlos’s situation came about when a neighbor alerted the authorities that a drunk man was causing trouble in a local establishment. The individual in question allowed the police to accompany him to his home, where officers saw a door locked with a motorcycle padlock. The neighbor explained that his brother was behind the door, a man who, he said, they had under their care due to his mental problems, and for “safety” reasons he was kept isolated.
The sister told officers that she was responsible for administrating Carlos’s pension and procuring his food and hygiene products, as well as his medicines.
But the officers were suspicious of this story and asked to see the brother. Behind the door they found another door, behind which was a near-derelict staircase that led up to the pigeon loft on the terrace, where they discovered the terrible scene of neglect.
Carlos was immediately taken to the Vírgen de Valme hospital, where it was discovered that he had not been for a medical check-up since 1996. He also had signs of malnutrition and infections due to a lack of hygiene.
The two siblings of the victim were arrested for offenses including abuse within the family environment and illegal detention. Both have been released from custody, but have not returned to their home in Dos Hermanas, where neighbors and residents are outraged at the events.
English version by Simon Hunter.