The Criminal Court 8 of Barcelona held this Thursday the trial of the photojournalist Albert García, of the newspaper ‘El País’, accused of having pushed an agent of the National Police on October 18, 2019 during the protests against the sentence of the 1 – O. García has denied the facts and has defended that he was arrested for having photographed a police action “out of protocol” at a time when the situation was already “calm” in the area. He also added that not only did he not hit any agent, but the policemen attacked him. “On the contrary, they beat me,” he declared.
Protest at the Government Delegation in Barcelona against the trial of photojournalist Albert Garcia
The photojournalist has also stated that he was properly accredited as a journalist and that the agents held him very harshly. Garcia was initially accused of a crime of attack and minor injuries, for which the prosecution asked him for a year and a half in jail. Finally, however, the public prosecutor has changed the first of the crimes for that of resistance and has lowered the request for conviction to a fine of 4,800 euros.
Throughout the trial, García explained that that day he was covering the protests from 6:00 p.m. until after 10:00 p.m. At first, he was on Via Laietana street, one of the focal points of the conflict and riots, where he went up to a flat to be able to capture aerial images of everything that was happening. Later, he went to the streets parallel to the avenue.
The photojournalist has reported that at all times he was wearing a helmet and protective glasses, and that he was duly accredited with the press identification bracelet. According to his statement, when he was in a square with other colleagues, two young men passed by whom the agents asked to leave the place. After an exchange of words they were arrested and beaten. “They carried out an action that, in my opinion, was outside of any police protocol,” said the accused. When he photographed the events, despite being at a “safe distance”, an agent was put in front of him. “When I asked him for an explanation, he shouted that he had attacked him and warned the rest of his colleagues,” he assured. Subsequently, they grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground. Immediately afterwards he was transferred to the police station in Via Laietana. “I did not resist, I was afraid and wanted to protect my team,” he added.
To questions from the defense, García stressed that the atmosphere that day in the city “was very tense” and that it was not “comfortable” for anyone. However, he has also insisted that at the time of the events there were no longer any disturbances and that he, like the rest of the journalists and photographers, was in that location in an already “quiet” environment.
During the hearing, the agents involved have also declared, who have reported that they witnessed how the accused attacked the agent of the National Police. In fact, one of them has assured that he saw “how he punched him.” In addition, they have described an environment different from the one presented by the photojournalist, citing “a hostile mass” made up of hundreds of people. The policeman who claims to have been attacked has also maintained his version of the story, explaining that the accused pushed him and hurt his finger. Later, he claimed that a series of journalists gathered around him, telling him that everything would go on television, while he asked them to back down.
As for the rest of the witnesses, most of them communication professionals who were working that night, agreed that the environment where the events occurred was calm and that they had the feeling that the agents “did not want images to be taken. of the detention of young people “.
Modification of the sentence
Throughout the procedure, the request for conviction has been changing. A part of the prosecution’s accusation was reversed by the Barcelona Court following an appeal from the accused. Thus, according to the Hearing, there were not enough indications that García attacked a sub-inspector in Urquinaona Square, grabbing him by the vest and throwing him to the ground to allegedly facilitate the escape of another person who was about to be arrested,
On the other hand, due to the events of two hours later, the Court did see sufficient evidence to go to trial. For all this, the accused was asked for nine months in prison, as well as a fine of 480 euros and compensation of 360 euros to the injured agent. After the trial, the prosecution has again lowered the sentence, going from a crime of attack to one of resistance, along with one of minor injuries. For all this, he asks García for a total of 4,800 euros. On the other hand, the defense of the photojournalist asks for his acquittal.
The defense celebrates the downgrade
Upon leaving the trial, García stressed that during the session all the police officers tried to show a “tense” situation at the time of their arrest, while he maintained that this was not the case. He has also explained that he acted “like all the press.”
For her part, the lawyer Marisa Díaz, has celebrated in statements to the media the reduction of sentence requested by the prosecution, since with the evidence practiced the crime of attack “did not exist anywhere.” The lawyer has pointed out that she trusts that the sentence is acquittal and has recalled that the expert report has been challenged because there is no report of injuries dated October 18, when the events allegedly occurred, nor the following day.