Humorist sent to trial for tweets critical of judiciary and police
Court considers actor Toni Albà’s Twitter posts to exceed the limits of freedom of expression
Catalan actor and humorist Toni Albà will be prosecuted for a dozen tweets he shared on social media, whose contents the court dealing with his case consider offensive to law enforcement and members of the judiciary. According to the judge, Albà’s comments exceed the limits of freedom of expression and, over the next few weeks, the prosecutor will submit a recommended sentence to the court, while Albà’s lawyers will call for him to be acquitted.
A week ago, Albà testified in court, in the seaside town of Vilanova i la Geltrú, stating that all he had wanted to do with the tweets was “to make people laugh,” and the comic actor went on to apologize in case anyone “had been offended” by his comments. The exact content of the posts has not been made public, although Albà told the press that one tweet was about the death last year of the Spanish prosecutor.
Albà already testified in the same local court in January, regarding tweets about the judge in charge of the independence case and Spanish law enforcement officers. At the time, he justified his messages saying it was his job as a comic to use “sarcasm and political satire.” Albà has been impersonating the former Spanish King Juan Carlos and other public figures in theater and on television for years.
Case of the clown councilor
Albà is not the only humorist to be prosecuted in Spain. A month after Albà first testified, a local councilor who also works as a clown appeared in court for sharing a photo of himself wearing a clown nose next to a Spanish police officer, on a day when raids to gather evidence for the independence case were carried out. Meanwhile, in November, the editor of the satirical magazine, El Jueves, appeared in court accused of libel.
Most recently, the debate about the limits of freedom of speech has included a number of hip hop artists charged over the content of their lyrics. Mallorcan rapper Valtonyc, for example, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, but chose to leave the country rather than go to jail. His whereabouts are unknown and Spain has issued an international arrest warrant against him.