Watch CBSN Live

Woman could face big fine over photo of police car in handicapped spot

MADRID -- Spanish police are looking to apply a much-criticized new Public Security Law - known as the "gag law" - to heavily fine a woman who posted a photograph on social media of a police car parked in a disabled parking space, along with critical remarks.

Police have filed a complaint with the regional Interior Ministry about the publication July 27, which they said offended the officers' work and merited a sanction, said Fermin Bonet, police inspector in the southeastern town of Petrer.

According to the law, a person can be fined between 600 euros ($660) and 30,000 euros for use of unauthorized police images.

It is up to the regional Interior Ministry office to decide whether to impose a fine or not and its ruling can be appealed. No one was available at the office Tuesday for comment.

Under previous legislation, such matters would have had to be decided on by a judge in court but now government administration officials can issue rulings.

Petrer town hall security councilor Fernando Portillo told The Associated Press the police were entitled to park in the space because they had been working at the time.

He said the town hall would have preferred another solution but that the two local police officers insisted on seeking a fine to defend their honor.

The law, drawn up by the ruling conservative Popular Party government, came into effect July 1 despite widespread criticism from opposition parties, United Nations experts and rights groups, who said it curtailed free assembly and expression and was an attempt by the government to muzzle protests.

The law also allows for the summary expulsion of migrants caught illegally entering the country's North African enclaves and sets hefty fines for protests outside Parliament or strategic installations.

Last month in the U.S., a picture of a police car in Indiana went viral after it was caught parking in a handicapped spot at an IHOP restaurant.

View CBS News In