Friday, March 04, 2005

Madrid apology after Passport incident with Chief Minister

Spain has apologised to the Chief Minister Peter Caruana after an incident yesterday morning in which, as he was driven through in G1 he had his passport checked and scanned.

Mr Caruana was on his way to record an interview in the Tele Sur TV “La Bitacora” programme last night. This was cancelled, as the programme was not recorded as planned.

Officials confirmed that yesterday morning as the Chief Minister and his party were about to cross the frontier on their way to Algeciras to record the programme, there was an incident involving the Spanish police on passport control duty which resulted in the Chief Minister declining to cross the border.

A spokesman for No 6 confirmed that the Gibraltar Government yesterday afternoon brought this incident to the attention of the Spanish Government who have undertaken to investigate it immediately. The Spanish Foreign Office (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores MAE) has apologised to the Chief Minister for the incident, he said.

This incident was completely out of the ordinary in that, as Chief Minister of Gibraltar, I have always been treated by Spanish frontier police and civil guards with total correctness and courtesy and respect for the office. The response of the Spanish Government confirms that today’s incident did not reflect official policy, Mr Caruana said later yesterday.

According to an eye witness the Chief Minister’s car, followed by his security car, was stopped by the Policia Nacional on duty. The car was crossing through fast tracked, as is normal on official business. The policeman asked for documentation and the window of G1 was lowered and the passports handed over.

One of the Gibraltar bodyguards exited the car to inform the policeman who was already making his way to the document scanner (popularly known as the ‘toaster’) where he then scanned the document, that it was the Chief Minister of Gibraltar who was involved.

The next move was the official cars reversing into Gibraltar including a car taking sports officials to a separate meeting on the Strait Games.


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