The Spanish Supreme Court upholds the sentence for the Spanish Hammerskins

By Alphia Abdikeeva, CIDH Pro Igual

In February 2012 the Spanish Supreme Court upheld the sentence giving prison terms for members of the Spanish section of the neo-nazi organization “Hammerskin” and ordering the dissolution of the Hammerskin-España. The 16 neo-nazis in question were handed penalties ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 years in prison, in addition to 2700 euro fine for each. The original sentence was issued in July 2009 by the Madrid court and was in essence the first such indictment in Spain.

Note: The “Nation Hammerskin” was established in Texas, USA, in 1987 by a group of white supremacists. The movement gradually spread to other parts of the country as well as abroad. There are sections in France, Italy, Germany as well as Spain. Each national section functions autonomously, but maintaining close links with other sections. The organization´s name derives from the organization´s logo: two crossed hammers.

The Spanish hammerskins were arrested as a result of the “Operation Dagger”in 2004. The operation was triggered by a string of racially-motivated attacks around Madrid in the final months of 2003. The investigation carried out by the Spanish Civil Guard and lasting several months led to the arrest of 16 individuals in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Guadalajara. The arrested, aged between 27 and 43, had the history of 48(!) prior arrests for violence and illegal possession of arms. The Civil Guard uncovered numerous material evidence of the group´s violent activities: firearms, ammunition, knives, daggers, baseball bats, and nazi paraphernalia and propaganda materials inciting to violence against other racial/ethnic groups.

Note: Hammerskin España was established around 2000. It was a structured and organized movement, spreading across the entire country and funding itself through the sale of magazines, concerts, and other economic activities. It carried out regular attacks on Blacks and other persons perceived to be “foreign” in Spain. Their activities came to light following an undercover journalist investigation.

The Movement against Intolerance that acted as a party to the case joined with the prosecution asking for up to 76 years in prison for the accused. Nevertheless, the Movement´s president, Esteban Ibarra, welcomed the sentence for “advancing fight against racism, xenophobia, and intolerance.”

Indeed, it has been a pioneer judgment given decades of virtually total impunity for neo-nazi activism in Spain, as Pro Igual covered in its earlier article of the miniseries exploring the connection between neo-nazi movement and hate crimes in this country. CIDH Pro Igual looks forward to further instances of official investigation into neo-nazi crimes in Spain and meaningful sentences for all perpetrators of hate crimes.