Spain: Terrorism charges against ‘bar brawl’ youths must be withdrawn

Terrorism charges against eight people involved in a bar brawl, during which two law enforcement officers and their partners were injured, must be dropped and the incident investigated in line with ordinary criminal procedure, Amnesty International said as the trial opened today in Madrid.

If convicted most of the defendants, who are all aged between 19 and 24, face prison sentences of up to 50 years.

“This prosecution represents a blatant misuse of Spain’s counter-terrorism laws. While injuring people of course warrants criminal investigation, charges of terrorism are entirely inappropriate and must be dropped,” said Eda Seyhan, Amnesty International campaigner on Counter Terrorism.

“This case is emblematic of the dangers that lurk within overly-broad and vaguely worded legislation, which can be used to criminalize behaviour that is far removed from any threat of terrorism.”

Amnesty International has long criticized Spain’s broad counter-terrorism laws and warned against amendments in 2015 that expanded the definition of terrorism in Spain.

 

Background

The incident took place in a bar in Alsasua, northern Spain, in October 2016. Three of the accused have been in pre-trial detention since November 2016.

One of the defendants is accused of making “terrorist” threats, with a potential prison sentence of twelve-and-a-half years, based solely on the fact that they said to the officers: “this is what you will get every time you come here”.

The hearing is due to end on 27 April.