Written Answers. - Judicial Investigation.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

188 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the action he has taken in relation to a deceased person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8158/01]

In the immediate aftermath of the incident which resulted in this tragedy and at the request of the parents, the relevant Irish honorary consul general obtained from the authorities in Spain copies of police and autopsy reports, the death certificate and the passport of their son. With regard to investigating the circumstances of the death about which there was speculation in press reports, the Department of Foreign Affairs advised the parents to engage a lawyer in the locality and gave them a list of English-speaking lawyers there.

During a visit in January 1997 by the parents to the place where the incident occurred, the honorary consul general arranged a meeting for them with their lawyer and went with them to the court to collect various personal belongings and other documentation relating to the case and to view the boat involved. In June 1997 the honorary consul general wrote to the court on behalf of the parents about matters such as their request for photographs of the deceased taken in connection with the autopsy and the return of clothes and other personal property.

The investigation of the circumstances of this young man's death is primarily a matter for the police and judicial authorities in Spain and the UK and I have to be careful not to appear to be interfering with the judicial process. Progress in the investigation has been frustratingly slow up to now. The investigation has been closed three times by the judge in charge of it in Spain and reopened each time by a higher court. The formal process by which statements are taken from witnesses in England and sent to Spain is also extremely time consuming.
Since 1997 my Department, the Embassy in Madrid and the honorary consul general have tried – by numerous contacts with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the British Home Office and the Garda Síochána Interpol Liaison Office – to supplement the efforts of the parents and their lawyer to advance matters. Following recent representations to me by the parents, I have instructed that my Department and the embassies in Madrid and London make further efforts to speed up the pace at which papers are transmitted between offices and to urge that the Spanish and British authorities treat the matter with full care and attention. My Department will continue to assist the family vigorously with a view to reaching a resolution as soon as possible.