Flashback to the scene in June. / SUR

Minister under fire over border deaths

In June this year at least 23 migrants died trying to get into Melilla from Morocco and video evidence now suggests the incident was partly on Spanish soil

MELCHOR SÁIZ-PARDO MADRID.

The government - and the Interior minister in particular- have been forced on to the back foot this week over a row over whether migrants who were trying to climb the border fence between Morocco and Melilla on the North African Coast made it onto Spanish soil. The June incident has recently been covered by a BBC report, reigniting interest from Spanish politicians.

An unknown number - between 23 and 72 according to different reports - were killed supposedly on the Moroccan side of the fence and Spain's Interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, has always maintained that Spain, therefore, could not have become involved helping the injured.

However, new video evidence from Moroccan border forces, Spain's Guardia Civil and a charity group appears to show that part of the violent assault did take place on Spanish soil.

The Spanish government's position is further complicated as it claims anyone who illegally entered Spain at the time was processed and returned legally to Morocco. But that does not now appear to be the case.

A committee of MPs has seen evidence Spanish forces did not intervene on alleged aggression by Moroccan forces even though the migrants were over the main fence and in a small area by a second fence that is technically part of Spain.

The Interior ministry has said it has no more video evidence to hand over and the images seen are out of context and not a complete picture of all that happened.

The main opposition PP party and the junior parties in the ruling coalition government have called for more investigation.