Spanish inquiry shows tear gas use in border tragedy -lawmaker

FILE PHOTO: The border fence between Morocco and Spain's north African enclave Melilla is seen along a road

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish police launched 86 tear gas projectiles to repel migrants trying to break from Morocco into the enclave of Melilla in June, according to a lawmaker taking part in an inquiry into the tragic events that left at least 23 dead.

Both Morocco and Spain have denied using excessive force and Moroccan authorities said at the time the deaths resulted from a crush, and from migrants falling from a high fence. Rights groups, however, say tear gas use was one of the triggers of the deadly stampede.

Deputy Maria Carvalho, who was part of group of lawmakers that visited the scene on Monday and met with the Guardia Civil force guarding the border, tweeted that they were given a list of riot ammunition used.

"270 shots, 28 smoke projectiles, 86 tear gas projectiles, 65 rubber bullets and 41 sprays (pepper)," Carvalho, from Catalonia's leftist party ERC, said.


About 2,000 migrants attempted to cross the border, triggering violent skirmishes with Moroccan security forces and Spanish border guards, with about 100 managing to get across.

Last week, British broadcaster BBC released a documentary that said lifeless bodies were dragged by Moroccan police from an area under Spanish control and that the Interior Ministry was withholding crucial CCTV evidence from formal investigations.

Spain has denied any deaths occurred on its territory and the Interior Ministry told Reuters all footage had been submitted to the public prosecutors office and the ombudsman.

Still, another lawmaker, Jon Iñarritu, from the Basque pro-independence party HB, tweeted after watching some of the CCTV footage shown to the group: "There is no doubt, the main events occurred in Spanish territory."

Enrique Santiago, from the Unidas Podemos junior partner in the ruling coalition, said that "there was an apparent lack of attention to the most immediate relief needs of the victims."

(Reporting by Belén Carreño, editing by Andrei Khalip and Tomasz Janowski)