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Spain's National Association of Victims and People Affected by Coronavirus (ANVAC) has filed a criminal complaint against the country's now ex-minister of health Salvador Illa and the health emergency director, Fernando Simón, for crimes of reckless homicide and injury, misuse of authority and other offences, for their management of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the first criminal action that has been lodged after Illa's resignation was published this Wednesday in Spain's official state gazette.

The ANVAC association's tweet announcing the criminal complaint it has lodged against Salvador Illa

The complaint is filed as a private prosecution on behalf of several dozen families, whose relatives have been affected by the coronavirus, and according to the signatory lawyer, Pedro Tabares, not only for the events of the first wave, which they consider very serious "for many citizens who died due to mismanagement in the first quarter of 2020", but for others later, such as those related to decisions taken by the Spanish health ministry between July and September.

As Illa is no longer part of the Spanish government, he loses the partial immunity from prosecuction which would have meant such a case would have to go before the Supreme Court - a court which, in fact, rejected an earlier complaint from ANVAC along the same lines - so they understand that a Madrid investigative court is competent to hear the complaint initially. However, if it is accepted and the former minister acquires the status of a Catalan MP after the upcoming elections in Catalonia, the matter will have be heard before the Catalan High Court (TSJC).

The investigation

Among the investigations urgently called for if the complaint is admitted, Tabares highlights the need to ensure access to documentation from the health ministry, especially communications between Illa and other ministerial officials, such as the secretary of state for health, and departmental directors, who will also be required to face questioning. "For now, we want this documentation to be retained until the court deems it relevant or irrelevant that it be produced," he said.

The complaint, focusing on the ministry's management, seeks to connect the decisions of those responsible with the suffering of specific individuals, whose experience is part of the complaint. However, the association hopes to expand the number of people involved, as ANVAC has about 3,500 members. The process, which requires a lot of documentation, is slow, according to the lawyer.

"A lack of responsibility"

For his part, Jaime Sánchez, president of ANVAC, stated at the courtroom door that "today is the day to take stock and be accountable to the victims." He understands that justice must be done "because irresponsible management has been committed throughout."

"Illa leaves the government at a time when Covid contagions are multiplying in Spain, one of the worst hit European countries with more than 55,000 official deaths and almost 2.5 million infections. Without explaining his management, he runs away. #Dignity #Justice."— ANVAC

Accompanied by a small group representing the relatives of the coronavirus victims, Sánchez added: "Unfortunately, deaths continue to occur, with the unpleasant certainty that today, at this time, more lives are being consumed due to the mismanagement of the pandemic, which from the beginning, due to indecision and lack of technical criteria, caused the thousands of deaths we have today. "

Asked about Illa's departure from the ministry and the fact that he left before this week's scheduled control session in Congress, Sánchez said that this reaffirms "his lack of responsibility for the position he held and that his decisions were political, without taking into account health criteria".


Main image: Salvador Illa / EFE