Organ trafficking? Exhumation ordered in bid to solve 13-year mystery of Spaniard’s death in Sweden

A coroner has ordered the exhumation of a Spaniard from a cemetery in west London in a bid to finally resolve a 13-year mystery.

Organ trafficking? Exhumation ordered in bid to solve 13-year mystery of Spaniard’s death in Sweden
The body will be exhumed from its grave in Gunnersbury Cemetery. Photo: stevekeiretsu/CC/Flickr

In September 2005 the parents of Miguel Ángel Martínez received the phone call informing them of their son’s death.

They were told that their 44-year-old son, who had left his home town in the Basque Country six months earlier with €11,000 in his bank account and a plan to go Inter-railing around Europe, had been found dead.

His body had washed up in the Lidingö neighbourhood in Stockholm and the police report concluded that he had committed suicide by jumping from a ferry several weeks earlier, subsequently drowning.

Within two months his corpse was transported to London where Martinéz had expressed the wish to be buried alongside the love of his life; a girlfriend who had died young.

But once there, British pathologists reported that his body had been mutilated. His heart was missing, as was three quarters of his liver. Moreover, the British autopsy concluded that the deceased’s lungs showed none of the signs associated with drowning.

For more than a decade, the family has been battling for answers, for a proper investigation to clear up the contradictions and inconsistencies and discover what really happened to Martínez.

Now, after more than a decade of lobbying from the family, a London coroner has issued an order to exhume his remains from the cemetery in Gunnersbury and launch an investigation into his death.

“We don’t know if he was killed, who killed him, why they mutilated him,” his sister Blanca told El Pais, suggesting that he may have been a victim of organ trafficking.  “It’s hard to imagine a crueller hell.”

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Shock as Spain tells foreigners how to cancel their criminal record 

Spain's Justice Ministry has caused outrage after it sent out a tweet explaining how foreign nationals can cancel their criminal record online themselves in order to gain Spanish citizenship. 

Shock as Spain tells foreigners how to cancel their criminal record 

It may seem like a dark joke sent out by a disgruntled civil servant, but Spain’s Justice Ministry has indeed informed the country’s 6 million foreigners – including those who’ve committed crimes in the past – how to wipe their criminal history from the system.

“Criminal records can be a problem when it comes to obtaining Spanish nationality or applying for or renewing residence permits,” the ministry headed by Pilar Llop tweeted on Sunday. 

“Here we explain step by step how to request the cancellation of criminal records,” the Justice Ministry went on to say, followed by a link to a video describing the process. 

In the video posted on June 7th 2022, which has so far more than 24,000 views, a narrator goes on to explain that through the digital transformation process that the Justice Ministry is currently undergoing, it’s possible for anyone to personally and officially delete their own criminal record.

“That means that your sentence can be cancelled without you having to apply for it,” the video stressed.

This reportedly applies to both criminal records and sexual conviction records.

Logically, the tweet has caused a mix of incredulity and anger on the Spanish twittersphere, with comments such as “they’re mad”, “is it a joke?”, “God save us” or “instead of kicking foreign criminals out they’re helping them”.

The truth is that the possibility of expunging a criminal record in Spain has already existed for 27 years, as has the option of a foreigner with a criminal record being able to obtain Spanish nationality.

What has changed is the possibility of an automated system allowing citizens, Spanish nationals and foreigners alike, to carry out the expunging process online themselves, rather than having to apply for the Justice Ministry to do it for them. 

What’s also novel, many would say alarming, is that Spain’s Justice Ministry has made this public knowledge to many more people in Spain after their tweet went viral. 

Artículo 136 of Spain’s Penal Code allows people with a criminal record to cancel it once a certain period of time has elapsed and if they have not committed any other felony since the initial sentence. 

For those with minor sentences, the criminal record can be removed after six months whereas for serious crimes (5+ years in prison) the wait is ten years, higher if they’re charged with more than one crime. 

However, there doesn’t appear to be any lifetime prohibition from expunging criminal records for those who have committed the most heinous crimes, meaning that foreign rapists, murderers and paedophiles could technically cancel their criminal records if they met the aforementioned conditions and become Spanish nationals.