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The Government of Spain empties the center where a migrant appeared dead

Ⓒ AFP/Archivos – Jorge Guerrero – | A protest against the Immigration Detention Centers held on November 26, 2017 before the new prison in the Andalusian town of Archidona (Málaga)

The Government of Spain announced on Wednesday the total evacuation of a prison used as a detention center for immigrants, which came to house about 600 Algerians and where one of them was found dead on December 29.

In a statement, the Ministry of the Interior indicated that “the 572 immigrants, all of them Algerians”, who since the end of November occupied that penitentiary center in the Andalusian town of Archidona (Malaga) “have been gradually moving” to a destination who did not want to specify.

The immigrants had reached the coasts of southeastern Spain in a matter of a few hours at the end of November. His internment in a center that was about to be released as a jail provoked strong criticism from the opposition and the organizations defending the rights of immigrants.

The conservative government defended itself by saying that the usual retention centers were already saturated, in a year in which the arrivals of migrants by sea to Spain doubled with respect to 2016, marking a new record of about 22,900 people.

The controversy was aggravated when the 36-year-old Algerian Mohamed Buderbala was found dead in his cell on December 29. The Spanish justice filed the case concluding that he committed suicide by hanging himself with a sheet.

But his brother Ahmed, who was in contact with him, said he did not believe the version, and the family’s lawyer, Amanda Romero, filed a complaint after noting that witnesses were not questioned, who, according to her, could “contradict” the version official.

The migrant defense organizations told AFP that hundreds of them were returned to Algeria in recent weeks, unable to specify the number. The Ministry of the Interior did not want to specify the whereabouts of the last migrants taken from Archidona.

Among those held until Wednesday, there were several witnesses to the circumstances of Buderbala’s death, “between ten and 20 people” who, according to Alejandro Cortina, director of the Málaga Acoge association, could have gone to an Immigration Detention Center (CIE) ) from Madrid.

Cortina added that, according to his data, another 28 migrants were taken to the centers of Algeciras and Tarifa, in the Andalusian province of Cádiz, and an indeterminate number to Barcelona.

Amanda Romero said that the transfers to other CIEs or to Algeria are “making it difficult to contact them and follow up on what is happening” with the migrants. He said he did not know if the potential witnesses were deported or are in other detention centers.

The Ministry of the Interior made its announcement coinciding with the participation of the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, in a summit of southern European countries in Rome dedicated precisely to the issue of migration.

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