Thursday, 18 May 2023, 21:47
Spain's Supreme Court has given the green light to annul 1.2 million fines, and prison sentences, for people who breached Covid-19 lockdown.
The Criminal Chamber ruled that there is no basis for prison sentences for people who disobeyed because the order not to go out onto the street was "unlawful".
The ruling involves all fines imposed by various police forces, including fines already paid which will need to be paid back. The hundreds of prison sentences handed down by the courts for disobeying orders, and ignoring or confronting police instructing people to return to their homes will also be annulled if they are appealed.
The home confinement order decreed by the government of Pedro Sánchez between 14 March and 21 June 2020 to curb the first wave of the coronavirus was deemed illegal by the Constitutional Court in July 2021. It concluded that the measure was not protected by the Magna Carta (The Spanish Constitution).
One particular case of serious disobedience that captured the attention of the Supreme Court was a Galician man who was sentenced to six months' jail by a Lugo court.
The court considered the man was aware of the confinement measures, but disobeyed anyway. He argued "he had a perfect right to be in the street" and warned officers at the time that he would continue to roam the streets until they got "tired of arresting him".
The Supreme Court took the man's side, arguing that for a crime to have been committed, not only must the guilt of the accused be proven, but there must also be "unlawfulness" in the behaviour.
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