The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled against the Spanish judiciary’s prosecution  for burning images of the king. The international court stated that burning pictures of Spain’s monarch is freedom of expression, and that it does not incite hatred. The court’s ruling comes after two Catalan men were fined for burning pictures of the former Spanish king and queen in Girona on the occasion of the monarchs’ visit to the city in 2007.

The decision by the European court over Spain’s punishments for burning images of the king was unanimous. The European body thus upholds the arguments of the complainants that the Spanish court’s ruling was an “unwarranted interference” with their right to freedom of expression. This right is enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Not proportionate, not necessary
The two Catalan men, Enric Stern and Jaume Roura, burned images of the former Spanish king and queen in 2007, on the occasion of the monarchs’ visit to the northern city. Their case was referred to the Spanish National Court, which sentenced them to 15 months in prison. The judge then reduced the sentence to a 2,700-euro fine.

According to the European Court of Human Rights, the ruling by the Spanish judiciary was neither “proportionate” nor “necessary,” and it obliges Spain to return this amount of money to the two men. In addition, the European court ruled that Spain also has to pay 9,000 euros compensation to both complainants.

Press release issued by the ECHR:

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