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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found that Spain violated the right to freedom of expression of an activist who accused two police officers of torture. The court in Strasbourg ruled that there was a violation of article 10 of the Convention on Human Rights in the sentence from the Spanish courts against Agustín Toranzo for describing a police operation to evict a social centre in Seville in 2007 as torture. The European high court sentences the Spanish state to compensate Toranzo with over 8,000€ (£7,000; $9,000) for damages caused.

The eviction

In 2007, the activist Agustín Toranzo protested against the eviction of the occupied Casas Viejas social centre in Seville by locking himself in the building. During the protest, Toranzo and another protester put their arm "inside an iron tube, which was attached to the floor, and [locked them] in place inside the tube"; the police decided to tie a rope around his waist to try and remove him by force. They also threatened him with the use of gas and "tied his hand to his ankle in a painful position for a long time". In a press conference after he ended his protest, Toranzo described these actions by the police as torture.

At the request of the Spanish government's delegation to Andalusia, prosecutors called for a criminal investigation against him over these comments. In July 2011, he was found guilty and fined 10 euros a day for twenty months and required to pay 1,200 euros in compensation to the two police officers. The courts found that the police's actions had been proportional and rejected Toranzo's claim that he had used the word torture in a colloquial sense.

After exhausting his options for appeal within Spain, in 2014 he ended up taking the case to Europe, denouncing the Spanish decision as having violated his right to freedom of expression. He argued that his conviction was neither "proportional nor necessary in a democratic society".