Spanish court names police as suspects in migrant drownings

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish court has named 16 police officers as suspects in an investigation into the drowning of 15 migrants while they tried to swim from Morocco to the Spanish North African enclave of Ceuta last year.

The Ceuta court said Wednesday the 16 Civil Guard officers will appear for questioning in March.

Despite initial denials, Spain’s Interior Ministry last year released videos showing police firing rubber bullets as the migrants swam toward Ceuta’s shore on Feb. 6, 2014, but denied the action contributed to the drowning.

Rights groups have demanded an investigation.

Ceuta is one of two Spanish territories surrounded by Morocco and the Mediterranean Sea. Annually, thousands of Africans hoping to reach a better standard of living in Europe try to cross over from Morocco onto Spanish soil.