Afghan ambassador to Spain becomes latest victim in Barcelona crime wave

Afghanistan's ambassador to Spain was mugged at the weekend in Barcelona, police and diplomatic sources said Monday, the latest in a string of high-profile crimes in the city.

Afghan ambassador to Spain becomes latest victim in Barcelona crime wave
Photos: AFP

The assailants attacked Humayoon Rasaw late Sunday on a street in the centre of town, throwing him to the ground to steal his watch, a police spokeswoman said.

The ambassador, who was in Barcelona for celebrations marking war-torn Afghanistan's national day, suffered a leg injury but “is fine,” according to a source at the Afghan embassy in Madrid.

The robbery comes as Barcelona, one of Europe's most visited cities, has seen a sharp rise in crimes, including several involving foreigners which have made global headlines.

The Mediterranean city has seen eight murders since July, an unusually high number in Spain which has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe.   

Robberies, especially those targeting foreign visitors, have also risen.   

Recorded thefts in Spain's second-largest city, home to around 1.6 million people, have doubled over the past four years.   

In the first half of 2019, violent robberies jumped by 31 percent over the same period last year.

In late June a South Korean woman who was part of an official government delegation died after a thief snatched her purse, causing her to fall and seriously injure her head.   

Earlier this month a Chinese man died in a fight outside a Barcelona nightclub.

READ: How a crime wave in Barcelona is turning residents into citizen crime fighters

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Spain busts gang running carbon tax fraud

Spanish police on Tuesday announced they had broken up a criminal gang running a multi-million-euro fraud that dodged import and carbon taxes on the sale of refrigerated greenhouse gases.

Spain busts gang running carbon tax fraud

In a series of raids, police arrested 27 suspects and seized 110 tonnes of different kinds of gas worth €11 million.

The gang specialised in the “illegal traffic in greenhouse gas refrigerants” that damage the ozone layer, said a police spokesman.

The gang brought the gases in from China at the port of Valencia on Spain’s east coast, passing it off as being intended for other destinations such as Jordan, said the statement.

In fact, the refrigerant gases stayed in Spain and were sold in various regions across the country.

The gang exploited the fact that European businesses have the right to transit goods imported from non-EU countries through EU territory — where they are intended for a third country — without having to pay customs duties.

They set up a ghost company in Portugal that was the fictional recipient of the gases from Spain, in case customs agents inspected their goods, said the police statement.

The gas was in fact being sold on the black market in Spain at about three times less than the normal market price.

The gang had got out of paying import duty and paying the tax applied to the European market for carbon quotas, as well as a Spanish tax on greenhouse gas refrigerants.

Spain’s treasury estimates that the fraud cost the taxpayer €3.5 million in tax revenue.