The Provincial Court of the Balearic Islands has acquitted the eleven militants of the Arran independence organization recently tried for crimes against public disorder for demonstrating against mass tourism with flares and confetti. “There were no violent acts, nothing was broken and this is not criminal,” the court said in relation to a concentration that was held “against the overcrowding that the tourist model on the islands entails.”
The Prosecutor’s Office initially requested a total of 29 years in prison for twelve defendants, although it ended up withdrawing its charges against one of them. The ‘confetti case’ dates back to July 2017, when a group of Arran members lit flares and threw confetti near a restaurant in the Moll Vell area of Palma against the overcrowding of tourists.
In its ruling, to which elDiario.es has had access, the court of the Second Section considers, however, that during the demonstration there was no “conduct of a violent nature”, nor was it caused “any type of damage or harm , beyond the inconvenience caused by the smoke to people located in the vicinity”, for whom “we do not even appreciate the existence of danger”. “No one has made a claim of any kind. The public peace understood as indicated by the jurisprudence was not altered and, above all, no act of violence of any kind was carried out, ”the magistrates stress.
“The customers of the restaurant were inconvenienced by the smoke caused and the surprising situation of a small demonstration with banners and demands, smoke, flares and confetti. But a democratic society cannot criminalize the shock that a demonstration can cause (although it has not been communicated to the authority) in the guests of a restaurant. The annoyances caused do not constitute alteration of the public peace through the use of violence. The right not to be disturbed while dining in a restaurant cannot take precedence over the right to protest peacefully, even when smoke, flares, confetti and banners are used and without using any of these means to exert violence on people or things”, resolution continues.
The magistrates abound that the protesters used “to draw attention and give packaging to an act with little participation of citizens.” The local waiters themselves reported that some of the protesters had entered the restaurant terrace “for five or ten minutes” while those present, “understandably angry at the act, indicated that there was concern”, but “not fear”. ”.
Likewise, the sentence emphasizes that, despite the fact that the call was not duly communicated to the authority, this did not mean that the participants “came out of the scope of the exercise of the rights to free expression and assembly and demonstration.” The court is blunt in this regard: “The doctrine points out that the right of assembly is the most elementary of the fundamental rights of a political nature, since the freedom to express one’s own ideas necessarily entails the recognition of the right to transmit such opinions to others. and listen to others. For this reason, the public meeting is considered the most primary form of expression of pluralism. The right of assembly is an indispensable consequence of freedom of expression.”
Specifically, the protest took place between 7:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on July 22, 2017, called by the Arran organization in Palma as part of the campaign ‘El turisme ens exploits! Mallorca necessita sobiranies, drets i autodeterminació’ (‘Tourism exploits us! Mallorca needs sovereignty, rights and self-determination’). As the court considers proven, more than ten people gathered in place, near a restaurant, carrying protest banners against tourism, smoke canisters, flares and confetti.
Only two of the defendants participated in the protest
The demonstrators activated the smoke canisters and threw the confetti, “causing discomfort and nervousness to some restaurant customers” but without causing “any damage or acts of violence and without any record that any of them left the place”, abound the magistrates. When several Port Police officers were sighted fifteen minutes later, the participants in the protest dissolved.
During the oral hearing, nine of the defendants denied having attended the protest -several of them were outside Mallorca that day-. Regarding this, the Court affirms that there is only effective evidence that two of the accused were present at the events, while a third, a journalist, was covering the concentration.
The judicial resolution even adds that “the emphatic nature of this case shows that none of the photographic examinations” carried out -some of them more than a month later- are credible, taking into account above all that the vision that some of the witnesses they had of those who really participated “it was for a short time in an environment in which there was confusion”. To this is added, adds the court, the “overwhelming defense test” carried out by the defense of the defendants, exercised by the lawyer Josep de Luis.
While the Public Ministry postulated that “about forty individuals, among whom were the accused”, gathered in the area, who “with the intention of disturbing public tranquility and acting in common agreement” began to launch boats and flares, the sentence asserts that it has not been proven in court that there was a mutual agreement between the accused beyond the will of each of the demonstrators to voluntarily join the concentration. Not in vain, one of the defendants pointed out that she found out about the call through social networks and decided to go alone.
At the beginning of the trial, some thirty people gathered at the doors of the Court to support the defendants. “Throwing confetti is expensive. 29 years in prison for defending us from tourism”, read a banner.