Madrid official fined for undressing in church

18th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish court Friday slapped a spokeswoman for Madrid's city council with a fine of 4,320 euros ($4,868) for taking her top off in a chapel during a protest in 2011 when she was still a university student.

The court found Rita Maestre, 27, a Podemos councillor and former student of the far-left party's leader Pablo Iglesias, guilty of "infringing on freedom of conscience and religious convictions" for bursting into the chapel with some 50 others at Madrid's Complutense University.

The protesters said they were demonstrating against what they consider to be the Roman Catholic Church's "antidemocratic and chauvinistic" positions.

The protest had sparked an outcry, leading to discontent from right-wing politicians and the Church, and it turned Maestre into a favourite target of Spanish conservatives.

A left-wing coalition including Podemos has governed Madrid city hall since June 2015, after over two decades of rule by the conservative Popular Party which is in power at the national level.

Public prosecutors had asked for Maestre to be sentenced to a year in jail, the maximum penalty allowed under Spanish law for the crime.

Maestre insisted during her court appearance last month that it was a peaceful, legitimate demonstration.

"If it offended someone, I have no problems in apologising," she said, adding she had already said sorry to the archbishop of Madrid.

Iglesias, who was politics professor at the university at the time, defended Maestre on Friday saying she "defended secularism and women's rights".


© 2016 AFP

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