Spanish armed forces

Spanish army to investigate soldiers pictured drinking beers while armed

The incident took place at the weekend in the Barcelona municipality of Vilafranca del Penedès. Photos of the men with their machine guns next to them quickly went viral

The soldiers drinking beer with their weapons on the floor in Vilafranca del Penedès (Barcelona).
The soldiers drinking beer with their weapons on the floor in Vilafranca del Penedès (Barcelona).@gabrielrufián

The Spanish army is to investigate a group of soldiers who were photographed at the weekend drinking beer with their weapons placed on the ground next to them at a bar in Vilafranca del Penedès, a municipality of 40,000 inhabitants in Barcelona province. 

According to the army, the probe will determine whether the members of the military – who were returning from operations in northern France – have committed an offense by consuming alcohol while leaving their weapons by their sides. The consumption of alcohol is prohibited among soldiers when they are on duty or carrying weapons.

The consumption of alcohol is prohibited among soldiers when they are on duty or carrying weapons

In the photo above, which quickly went viral on social media, several groups of soldiers in uniform are clearly drinking bottles of beer while their automatic weapons are visible on the ground next to them. The photo, which has shocked the residents of Vilafranca, prompted many comments on social media, including a tweet from the congressional spokesperson for the Catalan Republican Left party (ERC), Gabriel Rufián. “No doubt that after a beer your machine gun is lighter.” For its part, the Vilafranca branch of radical left-wing Candidatura d’Unitat Popular party (CUP) demanded that the soldiers leave the town.

According to sources from the army, the company spent Friday night in Sant Climent Sescebes (Girona) and, after resuming their journey, they stopped between 11.45am and 12.20pm on Saturday next to a supermarket in Vilafranca del Penedés so that the the bus drivers could make a mandatory stop and the soldiers could buy food for the rest of the trip, as their arrival in Ronda (Malaga) was not scheduled until early Sunday morning.

Normally, according to the same sources, weapons should remain inside the buses under the custody of a guard during stops. However, the head of the unit considered it safer for soldiers to take their weapons with them, as the buses were going to take advantage of the stop to refuel. Sources from the army added that the weapons were not loaded and that there were no incidents with the general public.

English version by Alicia Kember

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