Friday, February 09, 2007

Kelme Punishes Oleguer Presas

Thanks to the Internacional Herald Tribune we learned that Spanish company Kelme has decided to punish Catalan football player Oleguer Presas for showing solidarity towards a political prisoner on hunger strike over a clear violation against his human rights by the Spanish government.

Here you have the article:

FC Barcelona defender loses sponsorship over support for Basque hunger striker

The Associated Press
Published: February 8, 2007

MADRID, Spain: FC Barcelona defender Oleguer Presas lost his sponsorship from a sports clothing company because of a newspaper article he wrote expressing sympathy for a jailed former leader of the armed Basque group ETA.

Alicante-based firm Kelme said it made the decision due to "recent comments by the soccer player in several media outlets," according to Spanish news agency Efe on Thursday.

The company said it supported "the right to freedom of expression and free thought" but added "Kelme's links with the player are solely based on sporting criteria, and therefore the decision was taken to rescind the contract unilaterally."

No one at the company was immediately available for comment.

Writing in Basque newspaper Berria on Tuesday, Oleguer said the case of Jose Ignacio De Juana Chaos, who was on a hunger strike, compared with that of several prominent Spanish politicians and police officers who were imprisoned for their role in death squads that killed numerous Basque separatists in the 1980s. They were released without completing their sentences due to health concerns.

De Juana Chaos — who has been in prison since 1987 for killing 25 people in a series of ETA attacks — was close to being released from prison last year when new charges were brought against him for writing newspaper articles that were deemed terrorist threats.

He went on a hunger strike for several months, and resumed it in November when he was convicted over the articles and received another 13 years in prison.

Two weeks ago, a Spanish court rejected prosecutors' request to let De Juana Chaos be placed under custody at home, a measure that would have allowed him to abandon the protest.

De Juana Chaos' latest sentence is up for appeal before the Supreme Court.

Oleguer reportedly said in his article that Spanish law had "many dark areas" and "reeked of hypocrisy."

The 27-year-old Barcelona-born defender, who made his debut for the European champion in 2003, has emerged as a vocal supporter of the independence of Spain's semiautonomous Catalonia region.

Oleguer has aroused speculation about whether his political convictions would allow him to accept a call up for the Spain national team.

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