A bank asks eight activists for three years in prison for a peaceful protest against the eviction of a mother and her children

Insurgents, agitators and rioters. This is how the lawyer describes Caixabank, SA to the eight people belonging to the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (PAH) who will be tried on November 30 for the alleged crimes of gross disobedience and trespassing open to the public, for which the Prosecutor’s Office requests ten months in prison and a fine of 600 euros.

The private prosecution triples the request for a sentence for the PAH activists: three years and two months, because the bank understands that the defendants would also have committed the alleged crimes of duress and public disorder, which would add two and a half years and a fine of 3,000 euros at the request of the Public Ministry.

The events occurred on December 5, 2017, when eight platform activists, between the ages of 25 and 50, accessed the Caixabank branch in the town of Cabanillas del Campo (Guadalajara) with the intention of negotiating the suspension of the eviction of a woman with two young daughters.

The Platform for People Affected by the Mortgage He maintains that he had been negotiating with the bank for months, “with constant dialogues” in which the affected woman and a representative of the Cabanillas del Campo City Council participated. On December 5, 2017, the activists went to the Caixabank office to try to stop the eviction trial that was to be held days later.

The defendants’ defense emphasizes that their attitude was peaceful at all times. “There are no indications of disturbance of public order or of the commission of acts of violence, neither on people nor on things. It is about a group of people who tried to accompany and make their opinion felt in relation to the verbal eviction trial,” is stated in the defense brief, to which he has been able to access Public.

The peaceful attitude has been corroborated by the agents of the Civil Guard who intervened in the eviction of the bank office, describing said attitude as “passive resistance”. The agents found the activists sitting on the ground in a circle. After informing the uniformed officers that they would not leave the branch voluntarily, since they were supporting a family that was going to be left homeless, the Civil Guard proceeded to evict them and arrest them. Finally, the eviction of the woman and her daughters was executed on December 19, just two weeks later.

destruction of evidence

Despite the testimony of the Civil Guard agents, which for the defense constitutes proof that the crime of serious resistance to authoritythe private prosecution, exercised by Caixabank, SA maintains that the activists “papered the entire office with banners of the PAH, eating sandwiches and snackssitting on the ground and scolding customers who agree to carry out their efforts”. And he bases his accusation of duresswith a petition regarding this illegal act of two and a half years in prison for each of the defendants.

However, the evidence that could demonstrate the bank’s thesis may not be provided at trial. “After the search for the aforementioned images, we must inform the court that the images are not available since they were deleted after the 15-day period elapsed following the regulations established for video surveillance recordings,” Caixabank informed the court.

This fact is described by the defense as a “destruction of evidence, which due to its relevance –recording of the security cameras at the time of
the facts– question the account of proven facts that qualifies
both the private prosecution and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, what we request be taken into account”, indicate the PAH lawyers.

right to protest

The defense of the accused invokes the judgment of the Supreme Court of May 17, 2018 to recall that “the exercise of certain rights, such as assembly, demonstration, or expression, which are considered fundamental in a democratic society, can cause inconveniences and annoyances to other citizens and it is necessary to carry out a task of balancing the rights of one and the other, admitting a certain degree of inconvenience for the sake of the quality of democratic coexistence, as is the case in this case”.

However, it points out that “the presence of the defendants inside the
the bank branch and the public expression of their ideas and demands did not prevent the employees from carrying out their work or continuing with their

International Amnesty has presented this case concerning the PAH of Guadalajara to demonstrate “a serious setback in the exercise of the right to protest”, as a consequence of both the reform of the Penal Code, the validity of the Organic Law on Citizen Security (known as Gag law), and “the wide margin of discretion and arbitrariness granted to the security forces in their actions during peaceful demonstrations.”

The PAH has called a rally on November 26, at twelve o’clock in the morning, in front of the Caixabank headquarters in Guadalajara in support of the prosecuted activists.

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