Relatives of covid-19 victims file lawsuit against Spanish government

MADRID — Lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit against Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and the 22 members of his cabinet this week, alleging “homicide due to grave negligence” on behalf of those who have lost loved ones in Spain to covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, during the pandemic.

The complaint was presented to Spain’s Supreme Court by 11 attorneys working through the Zaballos Foundation for the Defense of Constitutional Rights, with 116 families represented. Foundation president Emilia Zaballos said more than 3,268 families have asked to join the lawsuit and are currently securing necessary documents such as death certificates.

The lawsuit holds the government “responsible” for the deaths because of “the delay in adopting the adopted measures” and “the negligence in their acts and omissions about stopping, reducing and curbing the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic’s effects throughout the nation.”

The foundation said it reserves the right to expand the lawsuit to include other government officials in an effort to open a full investigation into how the pandemic was handled in Spain, where 228,030 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed and 26,920 people have died in hospitals.

“Our dead need an explanation and deserve an exhaustive investigation,” Zaballos said, insisting it is not a politically motivated initiative. “We want the court to admit the suit and proceed with questioning and testimony so everyone can learn what really happened.”

According to Zaballos, the government failed to adopt prevention methods for more than a month after it knew of confirmed coronavirus cases in Spain.

Ignacio González Vega, a judge and spokesman for Judges for Democracy, said he does not expect the Supreme Court to accept the lawsuit.

“We are in an exceptional situation,” the judge said. “It is difficult to be able to attribute these deaths to the government’s management, more so since there are numerous deaths produced by the virus in all countries. In these conditions, it is difficult to talk about lack of diligence.”

By Pamela Rolfe