POLICE in Madrid break down the door of a tourist property in Madrid to stop an illegal party.
A video of police officers in Madrid has sparked controversy over the use of the Citizen Safety Law, commonly known in Spain as the “gag law.”
Police said in the official report from the raid that the law and the implementation of the coronavirus safety measures gave the officers the right to enter the property without a court warrant.
A second raid took place the following day, March 22, for the same reason and the same argument was used to justify entering the home.
Six police officers arrived at the home on Lagasca street at around 1 am in the first raid, after they received a complaint from neighbours. In video footage of the raid, which was shared on social media, a young woman is seen telling officers that she will not let them enter the property without a warrant. The police officers then break down the door using a battering ram.
There were 14 people inside the property who were reported for violating the health rules implemented to help prevent coronavirus contagions. Nine of the people present were arrested for alleged serious disturbance.
A similar situation unfolded in the second raid on March 22 and involved three of the six officers who attended the previous raid the day before. However, officers were able to open the door to the property by sliding a plastic sheet between the door frame to open the latch.
Some of those inside the property were accused of serious disturbance, however, a judge threw the case out on the basis that they did not commit a crime but rather an administrative violation.
Police reports for both cases claim the actions of the officers were covered by articles 16.1 and 9.13 of the Citizen Safety Law. Both reports claim the individuals were “flagrantly” committing a crime of disobedience by not opening the door to officers. Both reports also state the officers had a right to enter the properties without a warrant due to the “urgent need to intervene to arrest those responsible” and “protect public health.”
Officers also said their actions were in line with the restrictions that have been put in place for the Easter week to curb contagions, these restrictions include perimetral lockdown of regions, limits of social gatherings and a curfew.
the Interior Ministry stated in a press release shared with the media: “It has to be taken into account that the apartment the officers entered [on March 21] was not a dwelling, but rather a tourist property that was being used to hold a party in violation of the current health norms.”
The statement, however, does not clarify whether or not police are allowed to enter illegal parties if they are held in tourist apartments.
A professor of constitutional law at Basque Country University, Javier Tajadura, explains that holding a party during the pandemic is not a crime, “it is an administrative infraction that is punished with a fine.” According to Tajadura, claiming that the act of not opening the door disobedience is an “absurd interpretation that would empty the fundamental right to the inviolability of the home of its content.”
Legal experts also question whether there was an “urgent need” to enter the properties.
Source: El Pais.