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Spain complains after Gibraltar police incursion

Source: Reuters - Mon 20th Sep 2010

Spain has complained to Britain after police from its territory Gibraltar entered Spain illegally to raid a house, Spanish and Gibraltar authorities said on Saturday.

Gibraltar has apologised to Spain for the actions of the two policemen, who searched a house just over the border in Spain without permission from the local authorities and seized evidence relating to a crime committed in the territory.

"This is a regrettable incident in which Gibraltar police have acted improperly and I have not hesitated in apologising to the Spanish government" Gibraltar's Chief Minister Peter Caruana said.

Four Spanish policemen were arrested in December 2009 after they pursued suspected smugglers into Gibraltar, prompting an apology from Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.

"The foreign secretary has spoken to the UK ambassador and the chief minister of Gibraltar to express his deep displeasure" Spain's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Britain seized Gibraltar, at the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, in 1704 and it was formally ceded to Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht nine years later.

Spain demands its return, but relations over the disputed territory have appeared to thaw since July 2009 when the first Spanish minister in 300 years made an official visit to the outcrop for talks with Britain and Gibraltar.

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