And finally… lese majeste

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against the prosecution of two people caught burning photos of the Spanish monarchy.

In 2007, Enric Stern and Jamue Roura burned images of the reigning king and queen at the time, Juan Carlos and Sofía, during their visit to the city of Girona in Catalonia.

They were fined €2,700 each the following year.

However, the Strasbourg court has now ruled that the decision of the Spanish National High Court was “a breach of freedom of expression” and that, as a result, the country must reimburse the pair – and pay them €9,000 in damages.

Spanish daily El País reports that the court stated the burning of the photos “is the kind of provocative scene that’s being used more and more often to get the attention of the media and doesn’t go over the line when getting a critical message across in terms of freedom of expression.”

Benet Salellas, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, told broadcaster V3: “The ruling says important things about Catalonia in 2018. The court emphasizes that any act of political criticism must have special protection and also denies that it is an act of incitement to violence.”

Salellas added: “Strasbourg’s decision reiterates the non-violent character of Catalonia’s independence movement, and the ruling makes it clear that criticism of Spanish state institutions can never be called hate speech”.

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