Spain: ‘Blatant misuse’ of terrorism charges in bar brawl trial must be dropped

Terrorism charges against eight people involved in a bar brawl in Northern Spain in 2016 must be dropped and the incident investigated in line with ordinary criminal procedure, Amnesty International said as the trial opened today in Madrid.

The incident, in which two law enforcement officers and their partners were injured, took place in a bar in the Spanish town of Alsasua in October 2016.

Three of the accused have been in pre-trial detention since November 2016. If convicted the defendants, who are all aged between 19 and 24, face prison sentences of up to 50 years.

Eda Seyhan, Amnesty International campaigner on Counter-Terrorism, said:

“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.

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

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

The full hearing is due to end on Friday 27 April.

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