Spain's embassy in Oman provided lawyer 'who had never practised law' to jailed girl, says defense

21-year-old prisoner reportedly suffers poor conditions in sultanate as Spanish Congress and EU Comission pushed to take action

Fátima Ofkir Reyes, a Catalan young woman jailed in Oman
Fátima Ofkir Reyes, a Catalan young woman jailed in Oman /

ACN | Barcelona

December 14, 2020 01:26 PM

The 21-year-old Catalan girl condemned to 25 years in jail in Oman for drug trafficking is not only facing a "disproportionate" sentence, but had a questionable defense provided by Spain's embassy, according to Vosseler Abogados, the law firm now in charge of Fàtima Ofkir's case.

The law cabinet has revealed that the lawyer recommended by the Spanish diplomatic office in the sultanate "had never practised law" before her case.

"He had never exercised as such, is not registered [in the bar association] and has no jurisprudence to exercise anywhere in Spain and let alone abroad," believes Vosseler Abogados.

Indeed, the firm says they have not been able to prove that he has studied law and adds that the man only attended four or five out of the 15 sessions of the trial.

"We know thanks to Fàtima herself that no one attended the trial as her lawyer during several sessions or the day the sentence was ruled," they explain.

The man has been telling Ofkir's mother that the sentence was not final, but Vosseler Abogados has been able to prove that it has been final for a long time.

MEPs call on EU for action

The five Catalan pro-independence MEPs including Carles Puigdemont called on the European Commission and its diplomacy head, Josep Borrell, "to intervene with the Oman authorities in order to make the necessary arrangements so that Ms Fàtima Ofkir Reyes can be transferred to Barcelona."

They say that unlike in the Gulf country, in the Catalan capital her rights as a woman will be respected and "she can have better health care services to be able to face the sentence."

In a joint letter to Borrell, the five MEPs also denounced the managing of the case by the Spanish embassy in Oman who, according to them, "is also not very clear about the situation and its efforts are limited."

In parallel, the Spanish Congress is set to debate a proposal for an agreement with Oman to get Ofkir transferred to Spain on December 16.

Poor conditions in jail

Three years ago,  Ofkir secretly traveled to Oman only to find herself entangled in a drug trafficking scheme. She told her mum she regretted everything and promised to return the coming day.

But police officers arrested her, raided her room, and found 7 kg of morphine. She was tried for drug trafficking and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Three years later, Reyes still has not seen her daughter and is only allowed to speak with her for a minute or two every two weeks.

"She has severe depression and I’m afraid of what she can do," said Reyes.

According to the mother, prison authorities force Ofkir to wear a burqa and pray five times every day, and there are no medical professionals to treat her depression.

Ofkir is the only Spanish citizen jailed in Oman, and is regarded by her defense team as the youngest Spaniard imprisoned abroad.

Defense lawyer Daniel Vosseler recently took over the case and hopes to get her back to her hometown, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, next to Barcelona, within three months. "Otherwise, it means something is not working," he said.