The criminal court 25 of Madrid has acquitted Oscar Reina , general secretary of the Andalusian Workers’ Union (SAT), of a crime of libel with publicity for accusing Albert Rivera, then president of Ciudadanos , of being a cocaine addict. The acquittal sentence is based on the public projection of Rivera and on the fact that the allegedly insulting phrases were extended to the entire party, which “reduces the seriousness” of the personal accusation.
Albert Rivera appeared as a private prosecution and requested in court a sentence of 14 months of fine with a daily fee of 30 euros (12,600 euros) and compensation of 3,000 eurosplus legal interest.
The complaint stemmed from a tweet by Oscar Reina published on February 5, 2018 , in a few days in which large areas of Spain were under the effects of a storm . Reina wrote on Twitter: “Last minute information. No more traffic jams due to the storm. The highways have come up with a magnificent idea: they have given free rein to Albert Rivera and the company Ciudadanos to put all the white through their noses“.
The sentence, to which this newspaper had access, says that the fact that Rivera is a public figure, ” well known for having dedicated himself to politics , must be taken into consideration when assessing the insults.”, having been a deputy in Congress and president of a political party”.
According to the Constitutional Court, the permissible limits of criticism “are broader if it refers to people who, by engaging in public activities, are exposed to a more rigorous control of their activities and manifestations than if they were simple individuals without any public projection“.
“In a system inspired by democratic values, subjection to this criticism is inseparable from any position of public relevance,” says the judge.
It recognizes in its sentence that Reina’s expressions were “offensive insinuations, objectively vexatious or disgracefuland that are impertinent to express opinions or information on any matter of public interest or relevance“.
“Alluding to the status of a drug addict, a cocaine addict, or a public office is a detriment to their honor, credit or dignity of the person they affect, with repercussions not only in their personal and family environment but also in their professional career or the consideration that he has in society“, he adds.
But he clarifies that to graduate the importance of insulting expressions “it is necessary to examine not only the scope and meaning of the words, but it will be necessary to take into account the circumstances that occur in the act and in the people.”
That is why “it should be pondered that currently theaccusation of drug addiction is considered a manifestation of a minor offense , but in the case of a public position, of the leader of a political party with parliamentary representation, it cannot be considered without further ado as minor”.
The judge says that “there is no doubt that the insinuation of cocaine use is not limited to harming him personally and in his family, but it transcends the person’s public sphere and affects his prestige and image, undermining his credibility with respect to the society as a whole” .
However, three other circumstances must also be assessed: the first, that the tweet had the intention of making a “jocular demonstration regarding a politician.”Second, that it was a single tweet,“We are not dealing with repeated behavior within the same message.” And lastly, that although the insinuation of drug addiction was centered on the president of Ciudadanos, “it also mentions at the same level and alludes to the same behavior of the entire political party.”
This fact, “despite the fact that it is undoubtedly an outrageous statement for the entire political formation, reflects that what underlies it is a contempt for it within the free opinion of each person .” For this reason, “it reduces the seriousness of the personal mention of the president by extending the offensive conduct to the entire party,” according to the ruling.

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