Wednesday, July 6

The Prosecutor’s Office again charges tenants for protesting against their eviction and asks them for three years in prison

New accusation by the Barcelona Prosecutor’s Office against the movement in favor of the right to housing. The Public Ministry is demanding three years in jail from two tenants and their union spokesperson, Jaime Palomera, for the protests they made against the eviction raised by the owners of their building, the Fradera, one of the wealthy families in Barcelona with interests in the cosmetic and real estate sector.

The trial against Alpha, Fran and Palomera will be held next Monday in the City of Justice of Barcelona and comes just over a month after two other tenants, Juan and Livia, sat on the bench for protesting against the rise in the rent raised for your property and pending judgment. For Palomera, the new accusation shows that “there is an increasing interest in stopping the movement for housing by not only the real estate sector, but also by the State.” “But we will not stop non-violent civil disobedience, it is our form of struggle and with which we have managed to change the rental law,” he declared.

In its accusation brief, the Prosecutor’s Office considers that the tenants and Palomera incurred in a continuous crime of coercion and another of raiding the domicile of a legal person for the disclosure of their case on networks and three demonstrations before the family-owned beauty center in 2018.

According to the prosecutor, they carried out “a smear campaign on social networks” calling its owner a “speculator.” In person they went to his beauty shop on two occasions to demonstrate at the door of the premises and on October 17 they entered “megaphone in hand,” the prosecutor details, to protest against the eviction. The Public Ministry defines the protest as an action that “disturbed the ordinary functioning of the premises, scaring customers and workers” until around 6:00 p.m. In the afternoon they left after getting a meeting to negotiate the conditions of their rent.

The lawyer Anaïs Franquesa, who represents the three defendants, has warned that, in an unusual event, the penalty requested by the prosecutor is higher than the 21 months in jail demanded by the private accusation of the owners. “It is a very clear case of criminalization of the protest because it was totally peaceful,” denounced Franquesa, who has also expressed “concern” about the forceful accusation of the Public Ministry.

The conflict between the accused tenants and the owners of the flat (who also own the rest of the Floridablanca street block in the gentrified Sant Antoni neighborhood) dates back several years before the property raised eviction. According to the tenants, the property kept the property in an unhealthy state, in which termite infestations, asbestos and lead pipes in poor condition accumulated, despite which they continued to pay the rent. It was when they joined the Tenants Union that, according to their version, the harassment by the property began.

“We have always complied and they decide to kick us out the moment we say ‘enough’ and that we have the right to a home,” said Alpha. In fact, the tenants maintain another lawsuit against the property for damages derived from the “real estate harassment” that they reported, and the Barcelona City Council opened a disciplinary file against the owners for the poor condition of the building.