Judge dismisses charges against five teachers accused of hate speech
Court accepts for consideration lawsuits against four others in controversial case
Five of the nine teachers charged with fostering hate speech in their classes will no longer have to face trial over the accusations. A local court in Martorell, northwest of Barcelona, dismissed the lawsuits against them. However, the court accepted for consideration accusations against three more, as it did a few days ago with another case.
The lawsuit has caused controversy in the past few weeks, and has caught the attention of politicians across the spectrum. Some politicians have called for disciplinary action against the teachers, while others have defended them and deem the case to be an attempt to undermine public education in Catalonia.
The teachers at El Palau high school in Sant Andreu de la Barca, a small town outside Barcelona, are alleged to have criticized Spanish police officers during a class on October 2, a day after police cracked down on voters to stop a referendum on independence. Among the students in the class were the children of police officers, who felt humiliated and went on to press charges against the teachers.
The controversy stepped up two weeks ago, when the Spanish newspaper ‘El Mundo’ published an article providing personal details of the teachers and printing pictures of their faces. The title of the article was “The 9 Catalan teachers of infamy.” (“Los 9 maestros catalanes de la infamia.”)
Albert Rivera, the leader of Ciutadans, the largest unionist party in Catalonia, shared the article via Twitter. He wrote: “The separatist teachers that publicly identified the children of Guardia Civil officers in Catalonia. The prosecutor is investigating them for hate speech, but the Spanish government says they will not take any disciplinary actions. Cowardice can’t defeat nationalism.” Rivera’s tweet sparked criticism, with some denouncing him for not respecting the presumption of innocence.