24 June 2003

Night club owner faces the music - prison sentence for excessive noise

Night club owner in Palencia sentenced to 27 months in prison for endangering people's health and disregarding repeated demands from local authorities to control the noise.

In Spain, night clubs and excessive noise may cost the owners dear. In March 2003, the Spanish High Court sentenced the owner of the "Chapó" night club to two years and three months in prison, for severely endangering the physical and mental health of others. In addition, the night club owner, Carlos Granados, must pay compensation of Euro 20,194 to the affected neighbors, and he faces a two year ban on running this kind of business.

According to the judge, the night club owner created a "situation of high risk to the physical and psychological integrity, personal privacy, well-being and quality of life of the building's tenants." In addition, the owner ignored repeated demands made by the local authorities since 1996, when the first complaints over the noisy venue were made, to use acoustic limit devices to control the level of noise and vibrations. From 1996 to 1998 the owner not only ignored this order but adapted sound devices to increase the distribution of the music.

The noise created in this night club during weekends and bank holidays put neighbors at risk. Children and adults suffered various levels of discomfort and disorders forcing them to move from the building or requiring medical assistance.

The case is the first of its kind resulting in a conviction. The environmental law prohibiting various forms of noise contamination was made part of the penal code in 1995.

The night club owner will not go to prison while a partial reduction of the prison term to 15 months is being considered in the courts.

Source: Newspapers www.elmundo.es and www.larazon.es

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