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martes, 24 de junio de 2008

Spanish law seeks the last laugh over cartoonists' royal fun

One cartoonist depicts a drunken King; another shows the Crown Prince having sex – and a comedian dares to embark on an invective-strewn rant against Spain.

Now the humorists face separate trials for insulting King or country in a nation where humour is still a distinctly risky business. “We have noticed a worrying trend in Spain, because these laws [against insulting the Crown] have been put into practice,” Giulia Tamayo, of Amnesty International, said. “We are concerned that it is setting a precedent.”

In the first case, two Basque newspapers are on trial for poking fun at King Juan Carlos I after an incident during an official visit to Russia in 2006. The Spanish King, an avid hunter, reportedly killed a circus bear named Mitrofan that had been plied with vodka to make it an easy target.

"He was cooked!” read the headline in the satirical supplement of a Basque newspaper,Deia. A photo-montage on the cover showed a drooling King wearing a Russian hat, brandishing a rifle over a dead bear and a barrel of booze. Deia and Gara, another Basque newspaper, are also on trial for publishing an article entitled “The Tribulations of Yogi Bear”.

In April a Spanish judge shelved the case, arguing that the cartoonists were covered by the right to free speech. Last week Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska was overruled by the Spanish National Court, which insisted that the cartoon and article constituted an “attack on the monarch’s self-esteem”. Insulting royalty or “damaging the prestige of the Crown” is a crime in Spain, punishable by up to two years in prison.

“The King of Spain is perhaps the most overprotected person in Europe,” said José Antonio RodrÍguez, one of the two people who created Deia’s offending cartoon. “If his self-esteem has been damaged, well, perhaps he needs to see a psychologist.”

In a second case, two cartoonists working for the satirical weekly El Jueves are appealing against a €3,000 (£2,400) fine for a drawing of Crown Prince Felipe having sex with his wife and saying: “Do you realise that if you get pregnant, it will be the nearest thing to work I’ve done in my life?”

The drawing was a comment on a measure by the Socialist Government to award parents €2,500for every baby they produce. At the Government’s request, a judge ordered the issue to be seized from newsstands. Instead of suppressing the cartoon, the issue became an instant collector’s item, offered on the internet for up to €2,500 In a third forthcoming trial, the Catalonia-based actor and comedian Pepe Rubianes is charged with “insulting Spain”.

Mr Rubianes told Catalan television in 2006 that he was sick and tired of hearing about the “unity of Spain” – a concern cited by conservative Spaniards to oppose a law then under discussion to grant Catalonia greater regional autonomy.

“I wish they would shove Spain up their a***, see if it explodes and leaves their balls hanging from the bell tower,” he said to applause from the public on Catalonia’s public television station. The public prosecutor has called for Mr Rubianes to be fined €21,500.A Barcelona court shelved the case last year, but it was reopened last week by a superior court, setting the stage for another trial.

FUENTE DE REFERENCIA/REFFERENCIAL FONT: : The Times Daily. El Diario 'The Times' se hace eco de los juicios abiertos por injurias a la Corona La información del rotativo recoge los procesos judiciales contra DEIA, 'El Jueves', Nicola lococo (Diario Gara) y el actor Pepe Rubianes.

DECLARACIÓN DEL AUTOR PARA Diario Deia: "La Unión Europea critica mucho a Turquía por las leyes que tienen sobre las ofensas al país. Les han puesto casi como condición que las deroguen para entrar en la UE, cuando España forma parte desde 1986 y se están aplicando leyes parecidas".

NOTA DEL EDITOR: Menos mal que, los que tenemos relación con el corresponsal de The Times en Madrid (Thomas) o, los que enviamos esta serie de noticias directamente a Medios internacionales... a veces, somos escuchados. La campaña de sobreprotección a la familia "borbona" está empezando a "cantar" de una forma escandalosa. Como no pudiera ser de otra forma, este artículo es reenviado a más de 700 direcciones (muchas de ellas, fuera de los dominios soberanos -o reino- del mayor zángano del Estado español).

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