The tweeter and journalist Alfonso ‘Fonsi’ Loaiza has been sentenced to pay a fine of 2,100 euros for accusing the Municipal Police of murdering the young Senegalese Mame Mbaye who died in Lavapiés in 2018. The judge understands that he committed a crime of serious insults to the police force by assuring in his Twitter account that “the police have murdered him” and acquitting the other two defendants in the trial: Malick Gueye, spokesman for the Manteros Union in the capital, and a woman who runs a clothing store in Lavapies.
Riots in Lavapiés when a mantero died of a heart attack after a police chase
Mame Mbaye’s death took place on March 15, 2018 in the Calle del Oso where she lived. He and other manteros were fleeing from the Municipal Police in a chase that had begun in Puerta del Sol when he collapsed. The Senegalese was then 34 years old, suffered from heart disease and died. The Justice ruled out by criminal means that his death had been caused by police action or by poor attention from the emergency services after studying a complaint of SOS Racism.
Mbaye’s death resulted in concentrations of hundreds of people in the Lavapiés neighborhood denouncing that the Senegalese had been a victim of “institutional racism” and highlighting the conditions in which migrants live in our country. The demonstrations ended with several arrests and clashes with the Police while a large number of people also gave their opinions about what happened on their social networks.
Three of them were Alfonso ‘Fonsi’ Loaiza, Malick Gueye and the owner of a clothing store in the neighborhood. The three were taken to the bench accused by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and several police unions on understanding that the three had attributed their death to the Municipal Police. Gueye assured in an interview in 20 minutes, among other things, that “how not to protest, if in front of our eyes a person has been killed”. The Facebook profile of the store run by the woman published a message stating that “what we say is that the chilli sons of bitches are responsible for this death and many more. We are not saying that it was a murder or that they shot “.
Those two messages have not been considered criminal by Judge José Enrique Sánchez-Paulete, but what Loaiza wrote on his Twitter account, which at the time had more than 56,000 followers and which today has almost 140,000 in total. “The police have murdered him. For the state he was not a human being,” he said in his message. A crime of serious insults to the Police that costs him a fine of 2,100 euros in addition to the obligation to publish the sentence on his Twitter account, although it is an actionable sentence.
“The accused is a journalist”
The judge first of all rejects that Loaiza was giving an opinion and assures that “what was expressed is not an opinion, but a fact. A murder and its authorship are reported” to later understand that he unfairly attributed a crime to the Police . The statement he made “is not truthful and is expressed with reckless contempt for the truth”, since at first some information expressed what happened in a confusing way but concluded that “that a policeman had murdered Mame Mbaye was not a truthful hypothesis in any moment”.
The sentence also reflects on his ability to disseminate on Twitter and his role as a journalist. The judge says that Loaiza “is a journalist (…) being perfectly aware of the requirements of truthfulness of the information” and that “it is not a mere citizen who contacts his friends (…) but someone that spreads his messages to thousands of people “so he is also responsible for what he says through social networks, having tens of thousands of followers.
At this point the judge refers to the “influencers” and their communicative activity, which “cannot be left out of a regulation, which is still meager, and includes responsibility for their own acts.” In this case, the magistrate considers, Loaiza offered the version of the murder “to impose a certain story about what happened, which with contempt for the truth, can be imposed against others in social perception, shaping an erroneous public opinion through its manipulation” . The Law protects criticism of police actions, says the sentence, but “it cannot admit unfounded attacks against them that tend to cause their social loss of prestige.”
The resolution, which is not yet final, concludes that the message written by Loaiza on Twitter “reveals an intention to insult the Police, which clearly prevails over criticizing or denouncing the situation of the manteros, or the repression they suffer, which it can be expressed emphatically, even crudely, without allusions to the commission of a murder. ”
The magistrate reaches different conclusions in the case of the spokesman for the Manteros Union in Madrid and his statements made to the newspaper 20 Minutos. Their expressions could be, according to the sentence, “excessive or unfortunate” but “in the context of a message denouncing the social reality of a group of people, who understand they are condemned to marginalization, the main object of their criticism being the behavior of the authorities and their insensitivity to this situation. ” Furthermore, he understands that he was speaking in a language that is not his own and that there is no recording of the interview, only the transcript.
At this point, the judge endorses Gueye’s right to criticize the attitude of Spanish institutions to the situation of migrants. These criticisms, he says, “contribute to the formation of a free public opinion, which cannot be formed without listening to the discourse of immigrants in an irregular situation in relation to the situation in which they find themselves.” As for the third defendant, the judges understand that they cannot even prove that she personally wrote the messages that appeared on the Facebook account of her store, to which more people had access.