Since early June I have been reporting on the plight of José Cano and Juan José Ramírez, two Los Barrios men who have been held in Morocco on drug’s charges.
Now the Tangier appeal court has confirmed the three year jail term which brought an immediate response from the Andalucía Ombudsman. He described the sentence as “unjust” and called on the Spanish government to act in this “outrage”.
That may well now be the case. Senator José Carracao, who is a friend of one of the family’s said last month that the Spanish government was acting prudently as it was a judicial and not a political matter.
However he stressed that the Spanish Ambassador to Morocco and the Consul in Tanger were working to ensure justice for the men. Now their appeal has failed it is likely that the ministry for foreign affairs and its counterpart for the interior, who have kept a watching brief, will become more involved.
On June 5 the two men had gone fishing off Tarifa with Jorge’s son, David. They got lost in the fog, strayed to near the Moroccan shoreline, called the Spanish coastguard for help but were detained by a patrol from Morocco.
Initially they were held for entering Morocco without the necessary paperwork and David was sent home. Then as a consignment of eight bales of hashish was found in the area of their rescue along with a Jet Ski they were charged with drug trafficking and sentence to three years in jail plus a fine.
The Andalucía Ombudsman, José Chamizo, called the sentence “unjust” and said they had proof of the innocence of Jorge and Juan. He said the men’s defence lawyers had given the court the name of the person who owned the Jet Ski that had been transporting the hashish. Initially the Spanish Coast Guard had refused to give this information to the Moroccan court as it said it would break the data protection act.
Chamizo is certain that the sentence of the court is a reprisal by Morocco for what it sees as the unjust sentences handed down to its citizens in Spain. Indeed the arrest came at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries over the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Chamizo said the appeal court’s decision could only worsen relations between the two nations.
The Ombudsman also criticized the Spanish Government for its inaction over the arrest and trial of Jorge Cano and Juan José Ramírez. However if Senator Carracao is correct that could now see a dramatic change. Certainly the people of Los Barrios are in no doubt over the innocence of their two fellow ‘barreños’. The council has passed a motion supporting them, the mayor and political leaders of all parties have travelled to Tangier to show their solidarity and the people of the municipality have held a 2,000 strong protest. This action will now intensify until the men are set free.