Human Rights Court awards damages to Nazi bookseller

Barcelona businessman had sought 125,000 euros in compensation over unfair trial

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Spain to pay 13,000 euros in damages and legal costs to a Barcelona bookseller jailed for disseminating genocidal propaganda.

Pedro Varela, a Nazi sympathizer and owner of the Europa bookstore in the Catalan capital, had been seeking compensation of 125,000 euros for the seven-month prison sentence imposed on him by Barcelona Provincial High Court in 2010. The court of first instance had also considered him guilty of incitement to racial hatred and handed down a five-year sentence, but the higher court later exempted him of that charge and reduced the jail term.

The Strasbourg-based court agreed with Varela's allegation that the sentence violated Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which establishes a defendant's rights to a fair trial within reasonable time and to be informed of the crimes of which they are accused so they can prepare an adequate defense.

Missing charge

Varela, who has received sentences for similar crimes in the past, pointed out during the appeal that he was jailed for spreading ideas or doctrines justifying genocide when that crime did not figure in the lawsuit for which he was prosecuted in the court of first instance.

Varela also alleged that other articles of the convention had also been violated in his case, including Articles 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and 10 (freedom of expression), but the court did not even consider those two allegations.

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