Civil Guard applies new ‘gag law’ in Extremadura bull-killing case

Animal rights group files complaint over shooting of animal in square in San Juan de Coria

Video: Bull Guapetón is shot in Coria. Warning: you may find the images disturbing.Video: VoxÁnima
J. Jiménez Gálvez

Spain’s Civil Guard says it is considering using new public security legislation in a case involving the shooting of a bull during the annual summer fiesta in the town of San Juan de Coria, in Cáceres province, Extremadura.

“After 90 minutes, Guapetón, a bull that was exhausted and close to death, was killed by a participant in the festivities using a shotgun,” says a Civil Guard report into the incident, which took place in a square in the town of around 12,000 people on June 23.

It is terrible to kill a bull in this way. Aside from which, it is dangerous to use firearms in the street” PACMA spokeswoman Laura Duarte

Animal rights party PACMA, which reported the matter to the local authorities, says shooting a bull in public infringes legislation passed in December 2014 that has been criticized by civil rights activists and opposition parties as a way of stifling public protests. Dubbed a gag law by critics, it restricts where protestors can gather, and gives courts powers to impose heavy fines and prison sentences, as well as limiting media coverage of the police.

The Civil Guard has said in a statement that it is looking into whether the incident breaches the new legislation, which also covers the use of guns on the streets. Article 146.2 of the Citizen Safety Law specifically bans the use of firearms in public places. The previous legislation outlined similar restrictions, but was never used in a case involving the killing of a bull in a public place during festivities.

“It is terrible to kill a bull in this way,” says Laura Duarte, a spokeswoman for PACMA. “Aside from which, it is dangerous to use firearms in the street. A shot could rebound and hit somebody.” The organization has described the festivities in Coria as “outrageous: an event where a member of the public has been allowed to carry a gun in public since 2009, and in the presence of the municipal authorities.” This year was the first in which revelers were not permitted to fire darts at the animal from blowguns.

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But Coria’s local council insists it is complying with the law: “We have met every requirement specifically related to the annual festivities,” says the town’s mayor, José Manuel García Ballesteros of the Popular Party.

“During the festivities, a government delegate is always present (a former Civil Guard), and who on this occasion noted nothing untoward. That’s why we’re so surprised about what’s happened. There is a lot of ignorance about how these matters work,” says the mayor about the festivities, which have been declared of National Touristic Interest. This year, a 43-year-old man was gored to death by Guapetón.

The Civil Guard says that after “studying the events” it believes that a serious offense could have been committed, and has passed PACMA’s complaint on to the central government’s delegate within the regional government of Extremadura, Cristina Herrera, adding that the organizers of the event could face a fine of up to €30,000.

However, Herrera says she is unconcerned about the complaint: “The festivities were held without any incident, in accordance with the bylaws and all corresponding authorizations.”


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