Police unions demand the banning and destruction of a humorous book on 1-O
Cover of the book“On és l’Estel-la?” by the publishing house Comanegra, which is the subject of the lawsuit. It was published in 2018 and is now in its second edition. A humorous 28-page work that imitates the style of the “Where’s Wally?” books.
What were initially threats of a lawsuit have given way to the first actions of what will most likely end in a trial in which the publisher Comanegra, a couple of Balearic institutions and several police unions will face each other.
In mid-June, representatives of the national police union, JUPOL Baleares, went to court in Palma to file a complaint that will lead to a conciliation process as a preliminary step to filing a complaint for hate crime and slander for the publication of the comic in which the police forces are attacked, according to the unionattacks the State Security Forces for their actions during 1 October 2017 in Catalonia.
One of the illustrations in the book
A few days later, four other police unions, SUP, CEP, SPP and UFP, approached the Balearic Islands Public Prosecutor’s Office to request that “possible criminal responsibilities for the publication of this comic book with public money be investigated”.
Not a step backwards
I asked Joan Sala, director of the publishing house Comanegra, who intends to go all the way, about this matter, and he made it clear that the subsidy for this publication was 1,000 euros, which is the usual aid granted for works by Balearic authors and that, in this case, it was only 3% of the cost of the book. Although much of the media ignored this fact and seemed to suggest that the entire work was subsidised.
The publisher’s response after the first news of the lawsuit was this press release in which they made it clear that this was a satirical comic aimed at adults, not children, as some media also published at the time.
Press release from the publisher PDF.
On 25 September, the conciliation hearing will be held, and Joan Sala has already announced that he will attend, but he remains firm; there is nothing to conciliate. They do not intend to withdraw the publication, nor apologise, and they will defend their right to freedom of expression.
In addition to the publisher, the cartoonist, Toni Galmés, the IEB (Institute of Balearic Studies) and the Consellería de Cultura de Mallorca have also been summoned to this conciliation hearing.
what are the plaintiffs asking for?
Brace yourselves, it is not little and not exactly in money because the economic compensation they demand is symbolic, 1 euro. They go further and demand that they apologise and also that the books be banned and destroyed. Here is the list of demands.(Capture)
It is requested that the defendants agree to recognise and declare the following:
FIRST: That the content of the comic book undermines and denigrates the image of the National Police Force and the Civil Guard and violates the feelings of the members of these institutions.
SECOND.- That, as a consequence of the above, they proceed to publicly apologise to the National Police Force and Civil Guard for these events.
THIRD.- That they proceed to withdraw and eliminate the copies that make up the edition of the aforementioned comic “On és l’Estel-la?
FOURTH: To prohibit the publication and distribution to the public of the aforementioned comic, as well as the production of future editions of the same or similar.
FIFTH: That they refrain from producing, editing, publishing, distributing, distributing or subsidising in the future any type of work (graphic or written) or articles that violate the right to honour and denigrate the image of the National Police Force and the State Security Forces and Corps.
These lawsuits are always bad news because, regardless of one’s opinion or position on the issue at hand, the banning and destruction of humour books still sounds as ugly as it did in medieval times, and they increase the discouragement effect.
We will be attentive to the 25 September and its consequences, but I trust that it will come to nothing.
The Government will not be able to attend the conciliation
On 24 September, the 15th Court of First Instance of Palma confirms to the Government that it cannot be summoned to conciliation, so it will not be able to attend this act between the National Police union Jupol and the publishing house Comanegra. The Conselleria de Presidencia, Cultura e Igualdad, has also informed that the Govern will lodge the appropriate appeal.
The day has arrived. The conciliation was due to take place on 25 September, but a few minutes before the event, the representatives of the publishing house received the news of the suspension, without further ado, so that, officially, the reason is still unknown today and they are waiting for a new summons to which, they remind us, they will attend through a solicitor and that they will not accept the conditions proposed for the agreement.
Precedents of a similar case
In November 2017, five national police unions, CEP, SUP, UFP, SPP and ASP NP, filed a complaint for libel against the magazine El Jueves on the grounds of this article satirical/humour/fiction/with imaginary situations of the illusory worlds of the joke entitled “La continua presencia de antidisturbios acaba con las reservas de cocaína en Cataluña” which was published in October 2017.
El Jueves, on trial for a joke
Barcelona’s investigating court No. 20 concluded that “El Jueves” may have incurred in an alleged crime of libel for a joke published in October 2017. The case was eventually closed.
The case ended up being shelved as the magistrates of section 3 of the Barcelona High Court considered that, as it is a magazine “of denunciation, social and political criticism and manifestation of artistic creation”, freedom of expression must prevail over the fact that police officers “may feel annoyed and insulted”.
Related: Other cases around the world