Friday, November 03, 2006

On Trial For Their Lyrics

I was intending to do a completely different post on a musical theme today, but on opening my copy of El País this morning I find an amazing legal farce being promoted by the Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT). This organisation, closely aligned with the hard right faction of the Partido Popular, has brought a criminal case against the rock group Soziedad Alkoholika accusing them of praising terrorism.

The accusation is based on the lyrics of some of the songs of the group, who have denied that they are ETA supporters or that their lyrics can be interpreted in this way. The case has already been shelved twice by judges Garzon and Grande-Marlaska, but was reopened yet again on the request of the AVT. So the members of the group find themselves facing a possible prison sentence based on how a court decides to interpret the lyrics of songs which were written between 1989 and 1993, and which apparently have not been performed in public since 1996! The AVT, which supposedly exists to represent victims of terrorist actions, is becoming increasingly litigious and must be spending a significant proportion of its income on lawyers. It is of course also deeply involved in the campaign against the Basque peace process and in promoting the conspiracy theories about the Madrid train bombings.

Even leaving aside the whole question of whether there is any case at all for prosecuting the members of this group, the offence with which they have been charged was introduced as a result of a reform of the Penal Code introduced in the year 2000. This means that they face the prospect of being convicted for an offence that didn’t even exist at they time they wrote or performed these songs, such a retrospective application of the law is (supposedly) expressly forbidden by the Spanish Constitution.


Tom said...

It comes as no surprise to me that the AVT would pursue lawsuits against uninvolved parties and in contravention of the Spanish Constitution. These people have shown time and time again that they are unhelpful, partisan enemies of the democratic process.

I just wrote a longer comment to that effect but your blog ate my words.

seren said...

The legalised persecution of Basque organisations, from language groups to radical magazines like Ardibeltza, continues...
Spain might be called a democracy but it still smells like fascism when it comes to the way they deal with the Basques in particular.

Good blog, by the way - just found it!

Graeme said...

Thanks. It's not the case, I think, that the Spanish in general are in favour of cases like this. But you get well funded groups like the AVT and they use their money against anyone they don't like. Couple this with a heavily politicised judiciary who have come dangerously close to criminalising acts of opinion - and you get this kind of result. The case should have been thrown out of court, it will be very dangerous if it succeeds.