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Education authorities to pay compensation to family of teacher killed by 13-year-old with a crossbow
CATALUNYA'S regional government has agreed to pay compensation to the family of a supply teacher murdered by a 13-year-old pupil two years ago.
Abel Martínez, in his 30s and only a week into his placement at Barcelona's Joan Fuster high school in the northern neighbourhood of La Sagrera, was fatally shot with a crossbow when he tried to protect a female teacher.
The pupil had arrived late for school, at around 09.15, on April 20, 2015.
Without warning or preamble, he fired the crossbow at the teacher who opened the door to her, injuring her face, then targeted her daughter, a pupil in the class.
Martínez rushed to the teacher's aid when he heard her screams, but was shot and killed as he shielded her.
The youngster threatened a second-year pupil in another classroom, but was stopped by the PE teacher who calmed him down and persuaded him to lay down his weapons – which included a knife – before the child broke down sobbing in his arms.
According to the heroic PE tutor, the teen claimed he had been 'hearing voices' and 'wanted them to stop'.
He is thought to have been suffering psychotic hallucinations and had been prescribed medication, but had not taken it that day.
As he was under 14 at the time, under Spanish law he could not be considered criminally liable and could not be charged or face any penalty.
He was due to be placed in a children's rehabilitation centre where he would be given special education and counselling, and be monitored closely by a child psychiatrist.
Details of his fate – and even his name – have never been revealed because he is not only a minor, but criminally immune.
Abel's parents and brother commenced civil action against the regional education department after it declined to respond to their request for compensation to the tune of €1 million.
They cited poor security at the school, saying authorities had failed in their duty of care towards its teachers.
The Regional High Court of Justice upheld their claim, saying the school was legally responsible for the pupil whilst he was on the premises and that control and security measures had, by default, been breached – the death of the teacher, from the neighbouring province of Lleida, spoke for itself in determining the education authorities' strict liability, under the legal principle of res ipsa loquituur.
Abel was given the Great Cross of Alfonso X The Wise, an award presented by his alma mater Lleida University, as a posthumous tribute, and a faculty has been named after him.
Education union leaders and members held a demonstration on Thursday this week to mark the second anniversary of Abel's murder.
The regional government, jointly with student-teacher unions, has been working on a set procedure to prevent and mitigate violence in the classroom, and expects to bring it into effect next month.
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