Detention centre medical staff to be charged for Samba Martine's death
On 10 April 2014, Cadena Ser radio station reported that six members of the medical staff of the company that runs the medical service in Madrid's detention centre (CIE, Centro de Internamiento de Extranjeros) in the Aluche neighbourhood will be charged in relation to the death of a Congolese woman, Samba Martine, on 19 December 2011 after spending 38 days in detention.
Three doctors, two nurses and the head of the CIE's medical service will face charges in a case that was unduly shelved in August 2012, according to a ruling issued by the Madrid provincial court on 14 January 2014 following an appeal filed by Samba Martine's family alongside migrant support associations Ferrocarril Clandestino and SOS Racismo as well as a lawyers' campaign organisation, Asociación de Letrados por un Turno de Oficio Digno [ALTODO].
The decision to bring charges reportedly notes the existence of witnesses who can confirm that she was very ill for three weeks while she was in the centre. The reason that the provincial court gave for reopening the case was that the death may have been avoided if she had been given adequate medical care, considering that she had asked for medical assistance on ten occasions without the necessary diagnostic tests being carried out.
The ruling highlighted incongruences between the handwritten medical record and the report provided by the centre's medical service, noting that "they apparently seek to conceal the medical personnel's knowledge of relevant symptoms that should have led to them considering the existence of serious problems and were not taken into account".
It also noted the "important" role that CIE staff have as guarantors of a duty of care towards detainees, resulting from their impossibility of resorting to any other health services. Margarita Martínez Escamilla, senior lecturer of criminal law at Madrid's Complutense University, who assisted the appellants, told Cadena Ser that:
"Samba's death could have been avoided, not just if the doctors and nurses had done their job better, but especially if the organisation of the medical service had been planned better. When the State denies someone their freedom, it is responsible for them, up to the final consequences, and if it is not prepared for this, what must be done is to close down the CIEs".
Público, "Seis miembros del personal médico, imputados por la muerte de Samba en el CIE de Aluche", 10.4.2014.
Previous Statewatch coverage
Spain: Case into Martine Samba's detention centre death to be reopened, 6.2.14, (including full-text of the ruling by the Madrid provincial court)
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