LOCAL Police in Malaga were caught in a legal loophole on Monday evening as they were forced to spend seven hours outside an apartment in Malaga holding an illegal party.
The officers were forced to take an overnight vigil outside the door of the party as they were prohibited to enter due to the Citizen Safety Law, otherwise known as Spain’s ‘Gag Law’.
Events began at around 1am on Sunday night in an apartment in the Puerto de la Torre district of Malaga, when neighbours complained of loud music, shouting and a potential gathering that exceeded COVID-19 guidelines.
Police arrived at the scene and rang the door bell announcing their intentions.
They were met by one reveller who promptly slammed the door in the officer’s face.
Whilst the door was open, officers were able to determine that there was roughly nine people inside and a large amount of alcohol an what was thought to be cocaine.
Despite numerous attempts to obtain the identities of the party goers and threats of arrest, the people inside the apartment stood firm, shouting abuse at the officers and stating, ‘let’s carry on the party, they can’t come in here’.
At one point in the night, fake money was pushed under the door asking the waiting officers to get them more alcohol and churros.
Aware of their legal limitations of not being able to break into the property, the police waited outside until at around 2.25am, one reveller announced he was ‘bored’ and left and was immediately arrested.
The rest of the young people in the apartment carried on the party until 7.15am, leaving the police outside the apartment helpless to intervene.
All of the people, aged between 21 and 35 years old, were arrested as they left between 7.15am and 8am and will be charged with a severe case of civil disobedience and breach of COVID-19 rules.
This is the latest case in Malaga’s police falling foul to Spain’s ‘Gag Law’, which prevents police from entering a dwelling unless they have a court order or are aware that a specific crime is being committed.
The law was brought to the forefront after a video emerged online last week of officers breaking down the door of an apartment holding an illegal party in Madrid.
The video raised questions of whether the police acted within the framework of the law or were outside of their remit.
Legal experts within the police force claim that the Gag Law doesn’t cover the disruption of illegal parties and certain parts of the bill can be misinterpreted depending on the circumstances surrounding the raids.
The law also doesn’t cover whether the fact that the properties are private dwellings or holiday apartments effects the ability to enter the property, a detail that was prevalent in the case of Monday’s raid.
Police argue that at the time it is not always possible to ascertain whether the house is a holiday property or a private home and that the bill offers no clear distinction between the two.
They also argue that they have been ordered to determine the identities of troublemakers, and anyone who fails to do so is in breach of article 16.5 and therefore a crime.
Critics of the police’s breaking and entering policy claim that the bill’s vague use of the word home covers all dwellings that ‘offer shelter and protection’ which means that holiday apartments, hotels and even motorhomes could be classed as homes.
This means that any dwelling offers the inhabitants protection against intruders, including officers of the law.
Javier Tajadura, professor of law at Basque Country University claimed that there is also an argument over whether the need to enter a property is of ‘urgent need’ during illegal parties.
“Calling the act of not opening the door is an administrative infraction resulting in a fine, not civil disobedience resulting in the need to break in.” said Tajadura.
“You cannot violate someone’s fundamental rights.” he concluded.
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