On September 28 the Tangier court that convicted the “Tangier Two”, Jorge Cano and Juan José Ruiz, met to consider the appeal against their drug trafficking conviction.
Whilst the court upheld the previous verdict it also admitted new evidence and will give its definitive ruling on October 5. Key to that decision making will be a report from the Spanish Coastguard – Salvamento Marítimo – which knows the identity of the owner of a Jet Ski that is key to this case. However the organisation would not initially release the information to the Moroccan judge because it insisted it would infringe the data protection act.
The case of the two men from Los Barrios has been covered here before but to recap they went fishing off Tarifa on June 5. In thick fog they drifted to the Moroccan coast and when they found they had no fuel radioed the Salvamento Marítimo for help. It was a Moroccan patrol boat that appeared on the scene and took the two men and Jorge’s son, David, in to detention as they had entered Morocco without paperwork.
David was duly released and it was thought the two men would follow him in days but then the Moroccan authorities said they had found eight bales of hashish close to where they were rescued along with the Jet Ski. Despite there being no evidence to link them with the drugs they were arrested, tried and found guilty largely because the Salvamento Marítimo would not release the information to the court on the Jet Ski’s owner, even though it had spoken to this person after it had broken down.
There has been a huge show of support in Los Barrios for the two men. The mayor and political spokespersons for all the political parties at the town hall travelled to Tangier to visit Jorge and Juan to show solidarity. The council passed a unanimous motion declaring its belief in their innocence and over 2,000 people gathered on the steps of Los Barrios town hall on September 20 to call for the men’s release. The Spanish ambassador to Morocco has been busy on Jorge and Juan’s behalf along with the Spanish consul in Tangier. Senator José Carracao, who is a friend of one of the families, told me the ministries of the interior and foreign affairs in Madrid have kept a watching brief although they point out prudence is the watchword as it is a judicial and not a political matter.
So now Jorge, Juan and Los Barrios wait for October 5 – their date with destiny. It is to be hoped that justice will finally be done. The good news is that the court, whilst confirming the original sentence on the basis of the evidence it had, will not lose face by overturning it having considered the new submissions. In Morocco saving face is important especially with regards to Spain which explains the softly, softly approach of that country’s politicians.