One of the main members of the People’s Party (PP) in Catalonia to go on trial for xenophobia
Xavier García Albiol, the Mayor of Badalona – Catalonia’s third largest city and attached to Barcelona – will go on trial accused of the felonies of provocation of hate, discrimination and violence as well as of collective provocative slander. In 2010, before the last municipal elections, García Albiol distributed leaflets that allegedly related Romanian immigrants to crime. During the electoral campaign, he mostly focused his speech on fighting crime and stopping “illegal immigration”. The campaign created a huge controversy in Catalonia and García Albiol was the most voted-for candidate, although with far from an absolute majority. He became the Mayor of Badalona and for the first time ever the People’s Party obtained the mayorship of one of Catalonia’s top 20 most populated cities.
Barcelona (ACN).- Xavier García Albiol, the Mayor of Badalona \u2013 Catalonia\u2019s third largest city and attached to Barcelona \u2013 will go on trial accused of the felonies of provocation of hate, discrimination and violence as well as of collective provocative slander. On Friday the judge announced she was opening a trial against García Albiol. In a court order dated the 8th of April, the judge considered the accusations formulated by the prosecution \u2013 who are asking for one year in prison and an \u20AC8,100 fine \u2013 and the particular accusation \u2013 which is carried out by the anti-xenophobia NGO SOS Racisme \u2013 to be \u201Csolid and consistent\u201D. In 2010, a few months before the last municipal elections, García Albiol distributed leaflets that allegedly related Romanian immigrants to crime. During the electoral campaign, he mostly focused his speech on fighting crime and stopping \u201Cillegal immigration\u201D in Badalona, a working-class city at the core of Greater Barcelona that has some neighbourhoods with considerable social problems and high immigration rates. The campaign created a huge controversy in Catalonia and many accused him of xenophobia. However, the People\u2019s Party (PP) was the most voted-for, although with far from an absolute majority. He became the Mayor of Badalona and for the first time ever the People\u2019s Party obtained the mayorship of one of the Catalonia\u2019s top 20 most populated cities. García Albiol held a press conference on Friday evening and he considered it to be \u201Cobvious\u201D that the trial \u201Cis a political\u201D persecution against him. The Mayor argued that \u201Cwe are talking about facts\u201D and he insisted that \u201Cnobody is persecuted [in Badalona] for their nationality\u201D. He also said it was suspicious that the complaint was filed just before the 2010 Catalan elections. SOS Racisme celebrated the fact that García Albiol is to be put on trial.
García Albiol considers the issue to be \u201Ca political denunciation\u201D against him
After it was known the judge was calling Xavier García Albiol to go on trial accused of xenophobia, the Mayor of Badalona and one of the main members of the People\u2019s Party (PP) in Catalonia \u2013 the party that runs the Spanish Government \u2013 said the affair was \u201Ca political denunciation\u201D against him. García Albiol said it was suspicious that the complaint was filed 6 months after the leaflet distribution and just a few days before the 2010 Catalan elections. \u201CThese facts do not represent the persecution of anybody because of their nationality or any other criteria, but they are objective data showing that in Badalona there were a series of people who were creating a conflict of anti-social behaviour and living together\u201D, he said referring to the Romanian people appearing on the leaflets. García Albiol insisted that he was only \u201Cdefending the neighbours who were suffering from these problems\u201D. He said he will explain to the judge \u201Cwith absolute normality\u201D because problems \u201Chave to be talked through in a clear way to be able to take the appropriate measures to correct them\u201D. \u201CI will explain with objective data the reality that the neighbours of some Badalona areas were suffering\u201D, he stated. He also noted that the complaint file by SOS Racisme had been filed twice already.
In the controversial leaflets, with the PP official logo, immigration and crime could be easily associated with each other due to sentences such as \u201CIs you neighbourhood safe?\u201D next to photographs with people showing banners reading \u201CWe don\u2019t want Romanians\u201D. According to Barcelona\u2019s Provincial Court, this leaflet may not be backed by the ideas of freedom of expression or by the expression of political ideas. The judge and the public prosecutor believe they might represent two felonies: provocation of hate, discrimination and violence and collective provocative slander.