The chief of the Guardia Civil across the Balearic Islands stands accused of tolerating and promoting violence against people in police custody.
A leaked tape recording of Colonel Jaume Barcelo (pictured far right), published online by the Diaro de Mallorca, shows the then vice-chief clearly condone violence as an essential part of the force’s modus operandi.
“Anyone who has worked in the Guardia Civil and hasn’t given a few slaps hasn’t done his job,” Barcelo is heard saying before launching into a defence of colleagues on trial for abusing detainees.
Barcelo became chief shortly after the 2011 recording and his tenure has been marked by frequent allegations of police brutality. He rose to the defence of four officers sentenced to 10 years for their role in torturing two British tourists in 2009.
The revelations come amid growing storm over the National Police and prison system, which have been forced on the defensive after a string of disturbing accusations.
A jailed British DJ found with ecstasy who travelled to Mallorca from Ibiza claims to have been left brain damaged from a beating meted out by guards inside prison. In Palma a group of policemen were caught on film savagely beating a handcuffed prisoner.
Those cases pale in comparison to the televised claims from jailed Mallorcan politician Margarita Sotomayor who publicly denounced human rights abuses she reportedly witnessed in prison before being quickly hushed up.
Now other women have come forward with claims of their own and, with the chief of the Guardia Civil now apparently condoning violence, the island’s criminal justice system is being brought into disrepute.