Catalan actor testifies in court after tweeting about Spanish judge
Toni Albà, investigated for slander, claims he “only wanted to make people laugh” with his comments
Catalan actor Toni Albà testified in a local court on Tuesday accused of “slander” for several tweets he published about the judge who was originally in charge of the independence case, Carmen Lamela, and also about the Spanish police. He said he “only wanted to make people laugh” with the tweets. “My work consists of seeking sarcasm and political satire, imitating and use the freedom of speech the way I know,” he said to the press after testifying for around one hour.
Toni Albà has been impersonating the former Spanish king Juan Carlos and many other dignitaries in both theater and television for years. Indeed, when he was summoned to appear in court last November, he thought he would be investigated for one of these performances, because the legal documents regarding his case included pictures of himself dressed as King Juan Carlos and as Philip V, the 18th century Spanish king. Yet on Tuesday Albà explained this was not being investigated.
“My work consists of seeking sarcasm and political satire, imitating and use the freedom of speech the way I know”
Toni Albà · Catalan actor
Some 200 people took to the streets in support of the Catalan actor on the day he appeared in court. "We all are Toni Albà," chanted the crowd. Enric Majó, an actor who joined the demonstrators, deemed the accusations against Albà as an "aggression against freedom."
Backlash against satire
The accusations against Albà are not an isolated case of humorists being prosecuted in Spain. Last November, El Jueves magazine's editor appeared in court accused of slander. The satirical weekly published an article with the headline 'The continued presence of riot police uses up cocaine reserves in Catalonia,' referring to a major police operation launched to stop the referendum on independence. In 2016, two puppeteers were temporarily jailed in Madrid for staging a show where they allegedly glorified terrorism.