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The last rubber bullet victim

Rights. Barcelona City Council is to act as private prosecutor in the case of a man who lost his sight in one eye after being hit by a rubber bullet on 1 October.

Roger Español lost the vision in one of his eyes after he was hit by one of the projectiles fired by the Spanish police on 1 October. He will now be taking legal action to demand justice and damages with the support of Barcelona City Council, which will be acting as a private prosecutor.

The day of 1 October ended with a thousand people injured around Catalonia as a result of action by the Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil. The response from Barcelona City Council was to set up a special support service for those affected, offering legal and psychological assistance. The service attended to nearly three hundred people in the days that followed.

Roger was hit by a rubber bullet near the Escola Ramon Llull. The police had already entered the school and confiscated the ballot boxes and were withdrawing. As they did so, a police shooter opened fire and wounded Roger, who lost the sight of his right eye and suffered various facial injuries.

During the presentation of the municipal report by the support service for the victims of police aggression 1 October, the Deputy Mayor for Citizen Rights, Participation and Transparency, Jaume Asens, explained that the City Council is looking at strategic legal proceedings in the most severe cases such as Roger’s, in order to help and support the victims.

An outlawed projectile

The use of rubber bullets has been illegal in Catalonia since April 2014. The severe wounding potential, erratic and unpredictable trajectory and the number of serious injuries caused by rubber bullets led to the Parliament of Catalonia passing a law to prohibit their use by the Mossos d’Esquadra corps and local police forces in Catalonia. While the law doesn’t obligatorily affect Spanish state security forces, these police corps are obliged to respect protocols governing the use of this type of weapon. The presumed non-compliance of this protocol forms the basis of the proceedings taken by Roger and Barcelona City Council, who will ask the judge to identify the officer who opened fire.

Asens expressed his desire for Roger to be “the last rubber bullet victim not just in Catalonia, but also in the Spanish state”, as well as the firm commitment by the City Council to work towards this.

 

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