Spain tries 2 over 'praising terrorism' cartoons

Spanish cartoonist and Moroccan colleague charged over writings, drawings and videos.

March 23, 2010 16:03
1 minute read.
Detained Muslim looks out from prison van.

Detained Muslim 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Spanish prosecutors are seeking 18-month jail terms for a Spanish cartoonist and a Moroccan colleague charged with praising Islamic terrorism in writings, drawings and videos posted on the Internet, a court official said Tuesday.

One of the sketches attributed to Spaniard Gonzalo Lopez Royo depicts buildings resembling the Twin Towers collapsing, with people dressed in the festive red-and-white garb of Spain's running of the bulls scurrying away. Another shows US Marines in the cross-hairs of a gun.

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Since 2006 Lopez Royo has also posted more than 1,500 entries in a restricted-access Web forum in which he praised al-Qaida and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, its leader in Iraq until he was killed in a US missile strike in 2006, prosecutor Teresa Sandoval said in a charge sheet presented at the suspects' trial on Monday.

In an entry posted in May 2006, Lopez Royo wrote "it is clear that when I work on mujahedeen, my drawings are not simple portraits or caricatures. It is obvious that I am glorifying them," the sheet says.

Publicly praising or defending terrorism is a crime in Spain. Authorities sometimes use that clause in the law to go after supporters of armed Basque separatist group ETA. Arnaldo Otegi, a former leader of its political wing Batasuna, was convicted this month of praising terrorism in a speech paying tribute to a jailed ETA member.

Lopez Royo, who is in his 30s and runs a comic book store in the northeastern city of Zaragoza, testified that he rejects terrorism and did not want to offend anyone.

"I just wanted to comment on news in a positive way and did not mean to praise bad people," he said.

The Moroccan, Fath Allah Sadaq, is charged with using drawings done by the Spaniard to accompany Islamic terror attack videos he posted on the Internet.

A verdict is expected in coming weeks, the court official told AP on condition of anonymity in line with court rules.

A court-appointed psychologist testified at the trial that Lopez Royo has a personality disorder and low self-esteem that causes him to want to draw attention to himself. But he knew what he was doing with the writings and drawings, the psychologist said, the newspaper El Mundo reported.

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