The Popular Party (PP) mayor of Badalona will stand trial on hate-mongering charges after handing out flyers to citizens linking Gypsies and Romanian nationals to the rise in crime in his Catalan city, a judge determined on Friday.
In his ruling, the judge said that he found “solid and consistent” the charges filed against Mayor Xavier García-Albiol by prosecutors and the NGO SOS-Racisme Catalunya.
Prosecutors and the anti-racism group are asking that García-Albiol be sentenced to one year in jail for inciting hate, discrimination and violence after he passed out the pamphlets in 2010 along with Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, the head of the PP in Catalonia. She wasn’t charged in the case.
García-Albiol cannot appeal the decision to go to trial, for which no date has been set.
“It is the first time that a politician in Catalonia or anywhere in Spain will go to trial on these allegations,” SOS-Racisme Catalunya said in a statement.
The 15,000 leaflets that PP officials passed out one year before the municipal elections were distributed in the neighborhoods of Llefià, Sant Roc and La Salut in Badalona on April 24, 2010.
They showed photographs of Gypsies and Romanians along with slogans such as “insecurity,” “delinquency,” and “vandalism.”
After handing out the flyers, García-Albiol continued on anti-Romanian campaign with xenophobic remarks he made later that year. “Here, we don’t have Gypsy camps like they do in France. Here the situation much serious because they are spread out across the neighborhoods of the city making life impossible for the neighbors, and when they want, they attack us and call us racists.”
Last September, the Catalonia High Court ordered the Barcelona provincial court to reopen the case after the initial charges were dropped.