• Spain's news in English

Spanish pie-hurlers face serious jail time

Alex Dunham · 18 Nov 2013, 12:12

Published: 18 Nov 2013 12:12 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The four men are members of Mugitu, a group formed to fight against the development of a high-speed train network which would run through forestland in the Pyrenees.

They stand accused of "energetically hurling pies in the face of Yolanda Barcina Angulo", president of the north-eastern Spanish region of Navarre.

The right-wing Popular Party leader was attending a public meeting in Toulouse (France) in October 2011 when group leader Gorka Ovejero approached her with a pie concealed in a file.

Spain’s Public Ministry reported Barcina was left  “dazed and disoriented” when first Ovejero pummelled her in “an energetic fashion” and then the three attackers covered her face and clothes with white cream pies.

The pastry might have been easy to shift, but the “humiliation” she suffered could land the men some serious jail time.

Gorka Ovejero Gamboa, a politician with Basque nationalist Abertzale connections, faces up to nine years in prison; his other pie-hurling colleagues Julio Martín Villanueva, Ibón García Garrido and Mikel Álvarez Forcada could get six years.

At a time when numerous political and royal corruption scandals in Spain have made world headlines for the lack of punitive action taken against the alleged culprits, the objectivity of Spain’s judicial system is being widely called into question.

"This case reveals the very worst side of the Spanish judicial system and its total lack of contact with reality,” defence lawyer Gonzalo Boye told the UK’s The Guardian.

“It shows a corrupt judicial and political class prepared to use public resources to try people that have done nothing more than demonstrate their opposition to the destruction of the forest.

"If these people are convicted, the court will look like a tribunal during the Inquisition rather than a modern court of law."

Spanish online newspaper El Diario reported Ovejero as saying the Mugitu members had never expected to face jail time as they had looked into similar cases in other democratic countries where prison sentences were not given.

Story continues below…

"In Belgium (the writer and activist) Nöel Godin and his group have thrown more than 100 pies in the face of important people and they have always been understood to be expressions of surrealist art," Ovejero told El Diario.

"In Spain, authority figures are protected as much, if not more, as they were under the dictatorship. If you throw a pie in the face of your local barber, nothing will happen. But if you do it to a public official, you'll find the great weight of the law coming down on top of you," Ovejero said.

The names of countless Popular Party politicians or Spain’s Princess Cristina are just some of the examples of what Ovejero and his lawyer may have been referring to.

An even more recent example of judicial impunity for critics is that of the Prestige, where an 11-year investigation into the spill of 50,000 tonnes of crude oil on Galician fishing waters and beaches ended with no one being found criminally responsible.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain’s Socialists meet to decide on veto
The Socialists are meeting Saturday to decide on whether to lift a veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists gather Sunday for a crunch strategy meeting expected to see the party lift its veto on a minority conservative government and finally unblock the country's ten-month political deadlock.

Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available