Greenpeace activists escape with fine for protest at Cofrentes nuclear plant

Sixteen demonstrators will have to pay €20,000 for breaking into the site in February 2011

The Greenpeace activists on their first day of the trial, on December 4.
The Greenpeace activists on their first day of the trial, on December 4.Mònica Torres

Sixteen Greenpeace activists who participated in a 2011 protest at the nuclear plant of Cofrentes (Valencia) have been ordered to pay a fine of nearly €20,000.

Each one of the activists will have to hand over €1,080 in damages and €2,232 in compensation to the plant owner, power company Iberdrola.

A photojournalist who covered the event, Pedro Armestre, was acquitted of all charges

The defendants were cleared of charges of bodily harm and disturbing the peace.

A photojournalist who covered the event, Pedro Armestre, was acquitted of all charges.

The incident took place early on February 15, 2011, when the 17 individuals broke into the nuclear plant. Some of them climbed one of the refrigeration towers and painted the words “Nuclear Danger” on it.

The refrigeration tower at Cofrentes with the message "Nuclear Danger" spraypainted by activists.
The refrigeration tower at Cofrentes with the message "Nuclear Danger" spraypainted by activists.Greenpeace

Prosecutors had charged them with physically assaulting some of the security guards on site, and were asking for prison sentences of over two years, and fines of €360,000.

The defendants said in court that their protest had been peaceful.

The judge only penalized the activists for breaking the perimeter fence and other minor forms of damage. All parties may appeal to the Provincial Court.

“The sentence has made it clear that all attempts to criminalize peaceful protests and environmental activism are in vain,” said Mario Rodríguez, director of Greenpeace Spain, on the group’s website. “It proves that the protest at the nuclear plant of Cofrentes was always peaceful and that nobody was harmed.”

“They will not shut us up with threats of multi-million-euro fines or jail,” he continued. “We have more than 40 years’ worth of peaceful environmental activism behind us, and we will continue with our work.”

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