UpdateTwenty migrants disappeared on Wednesday morning from a plane that made an emergency landing at Barcelona airport for ‘medical reasons’. The police then succeeded in capturing 14 of the 28 fleeing persons. According to Spanish media, everything points to a pre-planned action, just like a year ago in Mallorca.
The Turkish airline Pegasus’ flight was on its way from Casablanca in Morocco to Istanbul in Turkey with 228 passengers. It landed at Barcelona’s El Prat Airport at around 4.30am due to a “medical emergency”. A woman who was about five months pregnant would be about to give birth. By the time a medical team was busy taking the woman off the plane, 28 fellow passengers took off, according to the police.
The half could be quickly intercepted by police officers who followed the medical team on the platform in accordance with the rules. In five of the fourteen this happened when they voluntarily returned to the plane. The captain gave them permission to get back on board. The search is still ongoing for the other fourteen refugees who are believed to be trying to enter Spain illegally. A motorist reported seeing a group of people crossing nearby C-31 around 5:30 a.m. and trying to stop vehicles, police sources said. El País.
The pregnant woman was examined at the Sant Joan de Déu hospital in Barcelona. No indications were found that she was about to give birth, the paper reports, citing sources within the government of the autonomous Spanish region. The woman, whose personal details have not been released, was arrested for disturbing public order. She is accused of pretending she was about to give birth.
For both the woman and the eleven men who did not voluntarily return to the plane, a return procedure to their home country has started. Their nationalities have not been disclosed.
Big similarities to last year
The incident, probably organized in advance, bears a strong resemblance to the flight of 24 migrants from an Air Arabia Maroc flight at Palma de Mallorca airport last November. The plane, also en route from Casablanca to Istanbul, made an emergency landing after a Moroccan passenger apparently suffered a seizure due to diabetes. As an ambulance approached the plane to pick up the sick passenger, 23 fellow passengers saw their chance to exit the plane cleanly. The patient and a companion fled upon arrival at the hospital.
The police managed to track down and arrest 21 of the 25 men – Moroccans and one Palestinian. They were charged with public disorder, illegal entry into Spain and rebellion. For the latter, where they diverted a commercial flight and forced it to make an emergency landing, they face a prison sentence of more than 10 years.
Amendment of the law
That may soon change due to an impending reform of the Spanish criminal code. In addition, ‘rebellion’ is deleted, and the most serious charge against the suspects is dropped. In anticipation of this, their lawyers are demanding the release of their clients, reported El Mundo Sunday. The 21 men are still in custody awaiting trial. The penal reform may cause the court to reconsider the situation.
“They are the only ones in custody in Spain for rebellion,” Hamza E’s lawyer told the Spanish newspaper. According to him, there is no longer any support for detaining and condemning his client (and his colleagues). “Especially considering he has no criminal record.”
The Spanish government wants to ratify the penal reform before Christmas. Then ‘aggravated disorder’ will replace ‘rebellion’ and the sentences will be reduced to a third.
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