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Robin Hood mayor probed over squatting protest

Sánchez Gordillo led sit-in on Defense Ministry ranch

Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo on the Las Turquillas de Osuna ranch. Ampliar foto
Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo on the Las Turquillas de Osuna ranch.

An Andalusian provincial court on Thursday subpoenaed Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, the mayor of the Seville town of Marinaleda, to answer charges filed by local prosecutors for squatting on military-owned land for 18 days as part of a protest last summer.

Sánchez Gordillo, a member of the United Left (IU) coalition, will have to appear in court next month along with 53 other protestors from the Andalusian Workers Union (SAT) who invaded the state-owned ranch Las Turquillas de Osuna in Seville. The Civil Guard dislodged them on August 10.

Sánchez Gordillo and his band demanded that the military turn over plots to unemployed people so that they could farm the land. They say that of the 1,200 hectares, the Defense Ministry uses just 20 hectares for horse breeding.

Defense officials filed charges against Sánchez Gordillo and the others. The court has officially named them as defendants facing usurpation charges.

The protest was part of a series of public incidents organized by the SAT that included going into local supermarkets and taking food without paying to later distribute it among unemployed people.