The Supreme Court considers that the leader of Adelante Andalucía, Teresa Rodriguez, did not violate the right to honor of the former Francoist minister José Utrera Molina when he referred to him in a tweet as “responsible” for the execution by vile stick of the young anarchist Salvador Puig Antich in 1974. The Provincial Court of Madrid had condemned to Rodríguez to pay compensation of 5,000 euros to the children of the former minister, now deceased, for an illegitimate interference in his right to honor, but the high court has now revoked that sentence because the words of the Andalusian parliamentarian are protected by freedom of expression .
The judgment of the Supreme Court corrects one by one the conclusions reached by a court of first instance and the Madrid Court when condemning the leader of Adelante Andalucía. The tweet that the court has analyzed was published by the parliamentarian on March 2, 2018: “Today, it’s been 44 years since the vile garrote execution of Salvador Puig Antich. Among those responsible for his murder, Fraga founded the PP and Utrera Molina was buried last year to the sound of facing the sun by members of the same party. They continue, we too, ”Rodríguez wrote on his social network account.
The Provincial Court argued that the accusation to Utrera Molina of being responsible for the murder of Puig Antich contained “an obvious offensive charge” that was not covered by the “political disagreement.” “Although the criticism that an authoritarian system deserves allows more harshly expressed evaluations, it does not authorize degrading words or phrases,” the judges pointed out, a reflection that the Supreme Court turns around: “The issuance of this opinion by a leader political, regional parliamentary, on events of political and historical significance, and their criticisms referred to a political figure and related to such events, fulfills the function of contributing to the debate and formation of public opinion in a democratic society and is protected by freedom of expression, since no insulting or degrading expressions have been used that are disconnected from the area affected by the demonstrations carried out ”, warns the judgment of the high court, of which the magistrate Rafael Sarazá has been a speaker.
The court weighs the two conflicting rights – freedom of expression and honor – and concludes that in this case the expression “responsible for the murder” of Puig Antich used by the Andalusian parliamentarian cannot be interpreted as the imputation to the former minister of the authorship of a crime of murder, but rather expresses Rodríguez’s opinion on the political responsibility of the Francoist politician, who, recalls the court, was part of the Council of Ministers that issued the “informed”, a necessary requirement for the death penalty to be carried out.
The fact that Rodríguez is a member of parliament and that Utrera Molina was an “important political leader” of the dictatorship leads the Supreo to understand that “the limits of criticism are broader” in this case than in others that involve people without political relevance or with respect to facts without public importance. “For a parliamentarian to qualify the execution of a death penalty as murder is protected by freedom of expression, since he expresses, in very critical terms, his opinion, and that of the citizens he represents, on the death penalty, at least on the one imposed in a given case, “says the court, for which it has” obvious relevance “that this death penalty would have been granted in a sentence handed down by a court martial held during a dictatorship,” without the guarantees of criminal proceedings held in a democratic regime ”.