The death of an Argentinian squatter in Barcelona

Juan Pablo Torroija
Juan Pablo Torroija

Juan Pablo Torroija was detained in the city of Girona. A few hours later he ended up in hospital. He was beaten and carried marks of strangulation. The police says he hanged himself in his cell. But evidence raises doubts about this version of the facts.

Submitted by Pé Vaye on August 1, 2012

The following is a translation. The original article can be found here:

A few hours after being detained by the Spanish police the Argentinian Juan Pablo Torroija entered the hospital on July 11 in the city of Girona. He was strangled and covered with multiple bruises. Three days later he died. According to the official version he hanged himself at the police station. “We called a friend of his in Barcelona to go there to see what was going on. We did not get any news from him for two weeks. Nobody informed us about his death. This friend knew from someone else that the cops had beaten him badly while being detained”, Ana Sol, Juan Pablo’s sister yesterday told Pagina12. Torroija was an activist of the Okupa movement and he was with the Indignados in Barcelona. He left Barcelona at the end of 2011 after a series of evictions. His family requests a new autopsy and asks to be plaintiff in the court case. They also do the formalities so the Argentinian Embassy would join them in their claim to clarify his death.

“We know that Juan Pablo entered the hospital at 4:52 on July 11 and that he was transferred from the Vista Alegre police station. The hospital informed us about this. He arrived by ambulance and he was accompanied by the policia municipal. We know now that the Mossos D’Squadra, a police division that was implicated in different cases of torture followed by death, were also implicated in his detention” said Florencia Mazzadi, the director of the Cine Migrante organization and a friend of Juan Pablo. The friend that was looking for him added that he could see different bruises on his ribs, legs; hands and that “his Adam’s apple was pushed in”.

This last detail caught the attention of his family and friends. The autopsy they had access to yesterday affirms that he died of cardiopulmonary arrest caused by the injury on his throat. “But there is not fracture of his neck. This means it is unlikely he has hanged himself. Besides the visible bruises he had others that were covered with tape without gauze“ Mazzadi said. The police said that Torroija was chased and detained after trying to steal a car. As a matter of fact the Spanish justice system has opened two cases: one for theft and another for suicide.

The friend of Torroija who was contacted by his family and who has seen the body said that an Italian guy who was also part of the Okupa movement told him that the Argentinian activist was badly beaten by the cops “and he grabbed his throat to make him understand in a visible way that they strangled him” said Ana Sol Torroija. Neither the cops nor the hospital nor the local autorities informed the family, thereby neglecting a disposition of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Only last saturday, 14 days after his death they got the news by informal ways.

“Don’t believe what the police says” said the Italian guy to the family of the Argentinian activist before saying goodbye. According to Setmanari de Comunicacio Directa (a Catalan journal), the Mossos d’Squadra took part in the detention and the transfer to the provincial police. “Once in his cell he tried to hang himself with his shirt, we saw it on the surveillance cameras. The cops tried to reanimate him while they called the emergency services” police sources told the Catalan newspaper.

The Mossos are implicated in two of three suspicious deaths over the last year. One of these is the death of Mustafa El Marrachki, who also hanged himself according to the police, but the case is under investigation. Six other cases of supposed suicides in police stations and jails in Spain during 2011 are described in the last report of the Coordination for the Prevention and Denunciation of Torture, Mazzadi said. She is helping the Torroija family to make several requests to the Argentinian Embassy to join them as plaintiff.

“We received the files and the case is being discussed, surely tomorrow the Embassy will make a decision on the requests”, a source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed yesterday evening. The body of Torroija is in the Memora morgue. According to the family the body will only be released if they take charge of the tranfer for his burial. This would preclude a new autopsy. The last claim was made by a stepbrother of Torroija. He lives in Spain and being a lawyer has presented himself as plaintiff for the Spanish-born daughter of the activist. His requests have not been answered yet.

Torroija was 41 years old. He lived in Spain for 8 years. He was the father of two kids. He supported himself by doing odd jobs that were often related to the deployment of sound systems for concerts.



11 years 10 months ago

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Submitted by Steven. on August 1, 2012

That's terrible… Thanks very much for translating the article and posting it here.


11 years 10 months ago

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Submitted by Harrison on August 1, 2012

catalan police are absolute francoist scum, fuck them all