German evangelists go on trial for 2018 Valencia metro stampede

Seven German nationals went on trial in Spain Monday on charges of provoking a stampede while trying to preach to a packed metro carriage in the eastern city of Valencia.

German evangelists go on trial for 2018 Valencia metro stampede
Security footage shows passengers on the Valencia metro struggling to get out of the carriage once the train stopped.

The incident occurred in 2018 and the seven, all men aged between 19 and 42, are facing charges of public disorder and causing injury with several people hurt as panicked passengers pushed to get off the train.

According to court documents, the incident took place at around 11:00 pm on August 4, 2018, when the defendants entered a carriage of the Valencia metro carrying a large red cross, suitcases and a shopping trolley, one of whom was wearing a waistcoat emblazoned with Arabic writing.

“The metro was full of passengers… and the defendants began to shout through a megaphone saying things like: ‘We have a message for you. This metro is full of sin, of drugs, of fornication’,” court documents show.

Footage of the incident show a man speaking in German whose words are then translated into Spanish and relayed over a megaphone, followed by screams and signs of panic.

“Don’t be afraid, all you have to be afraid of is sin,” the speaker says.

Prosecutors are seeking a four-year prison term for each of the defendants, saying they were aware of the consequences of their actions which caused panic and provoked a stampede in which several people were injured.

One was a 25-year-old woman who suffered various injuries to her feet that took more than eight months to heal.

Testifying in court, the young woman and several other witnesses said the passengers had thought the group were about to stage an attack and had panicked, the Las Provincias newspaper reported.

But the defendants entered a plea of not guilty, insisting they were not responsible for the stampede, the paper said.

Their lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

The case continues on Tuesday.

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Shock as Spain tells foreigners how to cancel their criminal record 

Spain's Justice Ministry has caused outrage after it sent out a tweet explaining how foreign nationals can cancel their criminal record online themselves in order to gain Spanish citizenship. 

Shock as Spain tells foreigners how to cancel their criminal record 

It may seem like a dark joke sent out by a disgruntled civil servant, but Spain’s Justice Ministry has indeed informed the country’s 6 million foreigners – including those who’ve committed crimes in the past – how to wipe their criminal history from the system.

“Criminal records can be a problem when it comes to obtaining Spanish nationality or applying for or renewing residence permits,” the ministry headed by Pilar Llop tweeted on Sunday. 

“Here we explain step by step how to request the cancellation of criminal records,” the Justice Ministry went on to say, followed by a link to a video describing the process. 

In the video posted on June 7th 2022, which has so far more than 24,000 views, a narrator goes on to explain that through the digital transformation process that the Justice Ministry is currently undergoing, it’s possible for anyone to personally and officially delete their own criminal record.

“That means that your sentence can be cancelled without you having to apply for it,” the video stressed.

This reportedly applies to both criminal records and sexual conviction records.

Logically, the tweet has caused a mix of incredulity and anger on the Spanish twittersphere, with comments such as “they’re mad”, “is it a joke?”, “God save us” or “instead of kicking foreign criminals out they’re helping them”.

The truth is that the possibility of expunging a criminal record in Spain has already existed for 27 years, as has the option of a foreigner with a criminal record being able to obtain Spanish nationality.

What has changed is the possibility of an automated system allowing citizens, Spanish nationals and foreigners alike, to carry out the expunging process online themselves, rather than having to apply for the Justice Ministry to do it for them. 

What’s also novel, many would say alarming, is that Spain’s Justice Ministry has made this public knowledge to many more people in Spain after their tweet went viral. 

Artículo 136 of Spain’s Penal Code allows people with a criminal record to cancel it once a certain period of time has elapsed and if they have not committed any other felony since the initial sentence. 

For those with minor sentences, the criminal record can be removed after six months whereas for serious crimes (5+ years in prison) the wait is ten years, higher if they’re charged with more than one crime. 

However, there doesn’t appear to be any lifetime prohibition from expunging criminal records for those who have committed the most heinous crimes, meaning that foreign rapists, murderers and paedophiles could technically cancel their criminal records if they met the aforementioned conditions and become Spanish nationals.