Three Spanish officers convicted in beating of farmer who died in police custody

Tree of eight Spanish police officers suspected of beating of a man who died in police custody last year in the southern resort town of Roquetas were convicted. Others were acquitted.

The eight had been on trial in connection with the July 2006 death of Juan Martinez Galdeano, a 39-year-old farmer who had gone to the police station seeking help following a road accident.

According to the prosecutor's report, the farmer was ordered to stay at the police station, and was detained and beaten when he tried to leave.

Martinez's family has long maintained his death was the result of a fatal beating. But an autopsy said he died of acute respiratory failure triggered by consuming cocaine hours before he went to the police station.

Police Lt. Jose Manuel Rivas, accused of using two non-regulation batons in the incident, one of them electric, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and three years suspension from the police force for causing injury. Two other officers were found guilty of causing injuries and ordered to pay compensation to the family of Martinez. The court did not reveal the amount of the compensation, nor did it release its reasoning behind the verdicts.

The farmer's death prompted strong criticism of the Civil Guard, a paramilitary police unit that reports to the Interior Ministry.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova