Calls for Spanish investigation into death of Iliass Tahiri after video emerges of him restrained in custody

Death of George Floyd in the US has sparked calls for Spanish authorities to reopen the case of 18-year-old's death

Iliass Tahiri's mother Khadijaholding a photo of her son. Marcos Moreno

Thousands of people have signed a petition urging the Spanish authorities to reopen an investigation into the death of Iliass Tahiri.

It comes after a video emerged of the 18-year-old allegedly being restrained by six men before his death at a juvenile centre in Spain last July.

Demands for the case to be re-examined have been prompted by the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests that have followed the death of George Floyd in the United States, who died after a police officer was recorded kneeling on his neck.

Tahiri, a Moroccan citizen, died in Tierras de Oria, a juvenile centre in Almería, southern Spain.

In January a court ruled his death was accidental due to his “violent resistance” against security guards' attempts to restrain him.

However, this week a video published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais allegedly shows him being restrained by six security guards prior to his death and shows he made no signs of resistance.

It shows him handcuffed and being strapped face down to a bed.

A guard is also seen allegedly pressing his knee on his neck for several minutes while other officials watch on.

More than 5,300 people have signed a petition to uncover the “crime buried under the shadow of racism” and have demanded that Spanish courts reopen the file.

Lawyers from Spain's Ibn Battuta Foundation, which supports people from ethnic minorities, have taken the case back to court on behalf of his mother, Khadija Tahiri, to ask for it to be reopened.

"His tragic death took place a year ago. El Pais's video clearly shows how security guards mistreated him by restraining him for too long," Mohammed Chaib Akhdim, head of the Ibn Battuta Foundation, told news site Yabiladi.

"[We want] the authorities to investigate the reasons behind his death. We seized the lawyers and legal advisers of the foundation and we decided to go to court to request the reopening of the file so that the culprits are brought to justice and that this protocol ceases.

"We demand justice for Ilias Tahiri and for his mother, with whom we are in contact. This tragedy must not happen again. We are asking the local government of Andalusia to stop this violent protocol which is harmful to young people."

The Foundation for Arab Culture in Spain has also started legal action in the case and in a statement said the footage "clearly" shows the "inhuman" treatment suffered by the victim at the hands of security agents whom it claims have acted "out of pure racial hatred by suffocating" him.

"For this reason, we want to show our total solidarity with the family of the deceased young man, expressing our deep rejection of this unworthy act for our society," the statement said.

It is calling for the Almería court to issue an exemplary sentence in this case and is asking for a ruling of "voluntary homicide aggravated by racial hatred" to overturn the verdict of accidental violent death.

Tahiri was born in Morocco and had grown up in Cadiz with his mother.

The Moroccan League for the Defence of Human Rights has also sent an open letter to the country's Minister for Foreign Affairs, African Co-operation and Moroccans Expatriates to investigate the tragedy.

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