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Spain14 November 2007

Court’s decision to convict cartoonists “reopens debate on free expression in Spain”

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Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s conviction of two cartoonists on charges of insulting the Spanish crown in a front-page cartoon in the weekly El Jueves last July that showed Crown Prince Felipe having sex with his wife, Princess Letizia. The court fined cartoonists Guillermo Torres and Mantel Fontdevilla 3,000 euros each.

“The conviction of these two journalists by the national court reopens the debate about free expression in Spain,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The legislation on crimes against the crown must be urgently revised to adapt it to the information society. Meanwhile, we hope the journalists’ appeal to the supreme court is successful.” (JPEG)

National court judge José Maria Vázquez Honrubia found Torres and Fontdevilla guilty under article 491.1 of the criminal code, which punishes “insulting the king or any of his ancestors or descendants.” The crime carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison, but the prosecutor limited himself to requesting fines of 6,000 euros.

The cartoon, which the court deemed to be “objectively insulting,” was prompted by a government decision to award 2,500 euros to the parents of every new-born baby. It had Felipe saying to Letizia: “Just imagine if you end up pregnant. This will be the closest thing to work I’ve ever done in my life.”

Torres and Fontdevilla said they did not understand the verdict. Their lawyer, Jordi Plana, said they intended to appeal and, if necessary, would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The offending issue of El Jueves was confiscated on the order of judge Juan del Olmo on 20 July.

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