A judge sees a minor offence in the death of a young man at the Juvenile Centre

The judge in charge of the investigation into the death of the young man in 2019 in the detention centre for juvenile offenders (CIMI) Tierras de Oria has qualified the actions of the three security guards as a minor offence during the mechanical reduction manoeuvre during which the death occurred.

The Court of First Instance and Single Investigation of Purchena indicates in an order that the facts “do not have the character of a crime”, although it points out that they could be “constitutive of less serious imprudence”.

The decision, which once again turns the criminal proceedings on its head, has been appealed again by the private prosecution exercised by the family of the young man Ilias T.

In April, the Provincial Court of Almeria ordered the prosecution of the three security guards, considering that, given that it was during the manoeuvres that “the death” of the young man “occurred”, they “must have been carried out incorrectly”.

The court of the Third Section of the Provincial Court of Almeria concluded that there was “recklessness resulting in death” on the part of “those who executed” the reduction of the young man, and remarked that it should be in oral proceedings where it should be determined “with what kind of recklessness was acted, serious, less serious or minor” and, according to this, proceed to the conviction or acquittal of these investigated.

A manoeuvre carried out incorrectly

The order of the Provincial Court upheld the appeal lodged by the family of Ilias T., ordering the transformation of the preliminary proceedings into an abbreviated procedure against the three security guards and revoked, for the second time in the course of the proceedings, although taking a step further, the decision taken by the Purchena Court of Instruction to dismiss the proceedings.

In order to dismiss the criminal case, the Purchena Magistrate’s Court argued that their actions could not be described as “imprudent” because the death was “accidental”, that there was no “excessive use of force”, and that they applied “correctly the containment protocol in force” at the time the events occurred. Subsequently, this protocol was “adapted and reworked”.

The Provincial Court of Almeria upheld the dismissal of the rest of those under investigation, including the director of the Tierras de Oria centre for minors, the representative of the management company and the representatives of the Andalusian Regional Government, to whom “no criminal reproach should be made”, but held that “another issue” was “the actions of the security guards who acted directly on the body of the minor”.

He pointed out that, although their actions “cannot be reproached in any way, as they were dealing with a tremendously disturbed minor” and “it is clear that they were complying step by step with the protocol in place for these cases”, it was appropriate to analyse “how it was carried out, when it was carried out and what precautions should be taken when it was done”.

However, according to the court, what should be “discussed” not in the investigation but in the trial, is whether these measures of restraint were “permitted by the centre’s protocol” but were “adequate to preserve the integrity of the persons”, and also, “the intensity and the way in which they were applied”.

Two previous files revoked

In May 2022, the Single Investigating Court of Purchena closed the case for the death of the young Ilias T. after concluding in the second phase of the investigation that those responsible for the management company and the Andalusian Regional Government did not “breach” or “deliberately ignore” the regulations regarding the manoeuvres for mechanical restraint, but that they “tried to adapt the protocol” that operated in the centre although the process was delayed “for reasons beyond their control”.

The judge indicated in her order that there had been “proof” throughout the investigation that the protocol in force at the time of the death in 2019 “was the object” of a process “of adaptation and re-elaboration carried out actively” and remarked that, “unfortunately”, it was extended for an “extensive period of time” and arrived “late in order to modify the techniques that, in this case, could have concurred as coadjutant causes of the death of the minor Ilias”.

The provisional dismissal also came for the workers of the CIMI Tierras de Oria who intervened “in some way” on “the day and at the moment when the death occurred”, since, in their opinion, their actions “cannot be qualified as imprudent” because the death was “accidental”, there was no “excess in the use of force” and they applied “correctly the containment protocol in force at the moment when the events occurred”.

The case was first shelved, although the Provincial Court of Almeria ordered in October 2020 the partial reopening, understanding that the criminal investigation should continue in order to gather information to reach those “responsible for the development and approval” of the protocol, as it was not “adapted” to “European and national recommendations”.


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