On that day, Alex woke up early and went to the Barceloneta beach.
Waking up early had become an habit as he craved the touch of the sand under his feet and the sound of the waves. In a hearthbeat, sitting in front of the sea brought him back to the coast of Senegal, where he was born. Indeed, early mornings were the perfect moment for this special kind of spiritual retreat…
Looking at the baton on his shoulder, he saw it clearly: five policemen were standing around him in plainclothes. In the blinking of an eye, one of the officers sprayed his face with a pepper spray.
Where is the mobile phone?
What are you talking about? I did not steal any mobile phone.
Then, they hit him over the head several times. They removed his shoes and threw them into the sea. They emptied his pockets and kept all his belongings: a Spanish NIE (a Tax identification number assigned by the Spanish authorities to any foreigner), a Senegalese Identity Card and about a hundred euros of savings. They did not find any mobile phone and left him lying on the sand.
Then, some passersby stopped and helped him washing his face in the beach showers.
Where did the policemen go?, he asked.
In that direction. Be careful!, one of them replied.
Meanwhile, the five officers were talking quietly beside the patrol car. Once Alex saw them, he decided to approached them politely.
Could you please give me back my documents?
No. We are not going to. You better go away or we are going to take you to the police station for the theft of the IPhone.
I did not steal anything. I need my stuff!
Allright. You are under arrest. Now you come with us to the police station.
He spent two days locked in the police station for a crime he did not commit. Barefoot. When he was released, he kept insisting:
Please, Could you give me back my stuff?
No!, was the only reply he got.
As soon as he was freed, he lodged a complaint for the treatment received and the false accusation of theft. Later, he decided to go to the Complaint Service for Victims of Racism and Xenophobia (SAiD) of SOS Racisme to tell them what had happened and ask for advice. The SAiD decided to accept the case and appointed a lawyer to represent Alex before the courts.
The complaint filed against Alex said that the arrest had taken place at the time of the robbery and that the phone had been found and returned to the owner immediately. The alleged victim was a foreign girl who was on holidays in Barcelona. SOS Racisme tried to contact her through the telephone number stated in the complaint.
Hello, Good morning. I call on behalf of SOS Racisme. Could we speak with Mrs Georgie?
It’s the Police here. I do not know any American girl called Georgie.
They hung up. During the phone call SOS Racisme did not mentioned at any time the nationality of the girl … The suspicion that the complaint was false strengthened and the research continued. Finally, the organization succeeded in getting in touch with the real American girl.
My mobile phone was stolen one night while I was on the beach. I didn’t see the thief. When I went to the Police station, the policeman told me they had not been able to find neither the thief nor my mobile phone.
Georgie’s statement clearly contradicts the complaint filed against Alex. Indeed, according to the latter, Alex was allegedly caught in the act of committing the offence and the phone was returned to the owner immediately. In addition, the complaint filed by the girl ended up in a different court than Alex’s and had been closed without further action as it was impossible to identify the perpetrator of the crime.
Thanks to these findings, the trial against Alex was suspended and a judicial investigation by the same court started on the aggression he was a victim of. After several technical problems, Georgie was able to testify from the United States. Then, the policemen involved decided to engage a famous lawyer to defend them. Finally, Alex moved to France. He was not able to tolerate any further the harassment he kept receiving from the police after what happened that day on the beach.