A mechanic from Reus accused of “hate crime” because he refused to repair a personal Spanish Police agent’s car
“The rule that regulates industrial activity protects me (…) I decided not to cater to Spanish police or Guardia Civil because of my principles”.
On January 31, Mr. Jordi Perelló, a mechanic from Reus, in Southern Catalonia, refused to repair a personal Spanish Police agent’s car. After the mechanic’s refusal to repair the car, the agent filed a case against the mechanic on the basis of “hate crime”, alleging that the mechanic decided not to fix her car due to her profession: being a “Policia Nacional” agent. On one hand, this implied, in the Spanish policewoman’s opinion, a discriminative attitude aiming at “fuelling hatred”. On the other hand, in the mechanic’s opinion, as a private service supplier to the public he works on the basis of the right of admission, thus, saying no to a client has nothing to do with hate crimes. In addition, the Court responsible for that case has got, at least, 15 more “hate crime” cases, right after the 1st October’s Self-determination referendum’s police violence. Some of the accused are, for example: the mayor of the city of Reus and four firefighters.
The mechanic, Mr. Perelló, refused to repair the private police agent’s car, due to his disgust towards the violence exerted by Spanish Police forces against the population during the Catalan referendum of Self-determination of the 1st October 2017. On that date, the Catalan people were called to vote in a Self-determination referendum. During the day, many peaceful voters were hit by Spanish Police forces in various polling stations trying to prevent the poll from happening. The main consequence of the Spanish police repression was 1066 injured voters, and polling stations (which are typically public primary and secondary schools) totally destroyed due to the violence used by Policía Nacional and Guardia Civil. In consequence, the mechanic decided not to accept jobs from the Spanish police forces, following the right of admission prescribed by the Spanish law. Furthermore, He has a poster in the entrance where you can read: “The Management reserves the right to refuse admission”.
A few days after the case was filed, the mechanic, Mr. Perelló, declared in front of the judge. He only answered questions from his defendant and rejected answering question from the prosecutor and the State Attorney, who represented the Spanish Policewoman. The mechanic alleged that the legal rule that regulates industrial activity protects him, because he has the right to say no to a possible client of his workshop. Currently, the sentence is still pending.
Besides the mechanic’s personal circumstances, the unjustified use of a new “hate crime offence” against those in favour of the independence movement in Catalonia is being used by the Spanish government and unionist parties. Unionist parties are denouncing each expression of political divergence as a “hate crime” based on the attempted new use of the concept (originally aimed only to the protection of minorities). This generates a serious situation of insecurity in regards of freedom of speech, which hurts directly the rule of law in Spain, and corrupts the criminal law and criminal code through wilful misinterpretations of the Spanish criminal code and the situations analysed therein.
The case of “the Mechanic from Reus” amongst others, has triggered a debate about – and against – the misuse of the very term and concept of “hate crime” to serve political interests aiming to curb ideological dissidence. For instance, the very State Attorney General, Mr. Julián Sánchez Melgar, indicated that the case of the mechanic from Reus “may not constitute a hate crime”.
Likewise, the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) has asserted in an interlocutory decree that the hate crime of article 510 of the Criminal Code can only be applied against those that incite the discrimination of vulnerable groups (minorities), but not against those who criticize or threaten the police forces.
Violation of the right of admission enshrined in Real Decreto 1457/1986, de 10 de enero, por el que se regulan la actividad industrial y la prestación de servicios en los talleres de reparación de vehículos automóviles de sus equipos y componentes art.13. It allows refusing the entrance to private businesses. It is limited by art.14 of the Spanish Constitution, which establishes the non-discrimination principle.
An exhaustive article in a Spanish newspaper which explains that international organisms are criticizing Spain for its random use of hate crimes against the independence movement in Catalonia and each expression of dissent (in Spanish)
Art.14 Spanish Constitution – Non-discrimination. Nothing on it refers to discrimination in private businesses. Because of that, Spain grants the right to business owners to deny the entrance in their premises -right of admission (in Spanish).
Art.512 – Spanish Criminal Code – This article is the base of the Spanish Policeman’s complaint. It does not indicate anything about refusing right of admission (in Spanish).
Leaflet of the Minister of Home Affairs which explains, what a hate crime is. Nothing indicated in it about discrimination based on denying the right of admission (in English).
Llei 17/2009, de 23 de novembre, sobre el lliure accés a les activitats de serveis i el seu exercici – This law regulates most of all service activities in Spain (in Catalan).
Arts. 19 Universal Declaration on Human Rights, regarding freedom of opinion and expression, right to peaceful assembly, right to participate in political life (in English)
Arts. 19 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights regarding pre-trial detention, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, right to participate in political life (in English)
Interlocutory judgment of Barcelona’s High Court indicating that members of the police forces cannot be considered as victims of “hate crimes”.