Violent puppet show sparks apology, but jailing puppeteers was wrong, says Madrid mayor

Madrid city hall apologized Monday to parents for exposing their children to a violent puppet show, but says jailing the puppeteers for allegedly praising terrorism was disproportionate.

Satirical theatre piece presented as part of Carnival celebrations

The satirical theatre show The Witch and Don Cristobal led to the detention of puppeteers Alfonso Lazaro de la Fuente and Raul Garcia Perez in Madrid after complaints about a sign referencing Spain's armed Basque group ETA and the show's violent content, which drew condemnation from parents of young children in the audience. (Silvia Sanz/Twitter)

Madrid city hall apologized Monday to parents for exposing their children to a violent puppet show, but says jailing the puppeteers for allegedly praising terrorism was disproportionate.

Puppeteers Alfonso Lazaro de la Fuente and Raul Garcia Perez were detained without possibility of bail on Friday for using a sign saying, "Long Live Alka ETA," in a word-play reference to Spain's armed Basque group ETA and al-Qaida.

The satirical theatre piece entitled, The Witch and Don Cristobal, also featured the hanging of a judge's effigy, the stabbing of a nun with a crucifix and police beatings, prompting parents attending with children to complain. The show was commissioned by the city as part of Carnival celebrations.

On Saturday, a judge charged them with "glorifying terrorism."

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena, 71, said the show's content was "offensive" and inappropriate for children, but that jailing the puppeteers without bail was incomprehensible.

Praising terrorism has been a crime in Spain since 1995.

Carmena, a retired judge, said the town hall had made a serious error by being unaware of the show's content and advertising it as suitable for all ages. She said there would be an investigation.

City hall initially presented a legal complaint against the puppeteers, but was now studying withdrawing it.

Spain's Terrorism Victims Association said Monday it was taking legal action against the puppeteers, the mayor and the city's cultural councilor, Celia Mayer.

Spain's acting ruling conservative Popular Party called for Mayer's dismissal.

Mayer said in a statement the attacks were part of a campaign to discredit Carmena's leftist city government. Carmena became Madrid's first left-wing mayor in 24 years on taking office in June.

Friends of the two puppeteers told Spanish media that the pair had not known children would be present for the show, which was not intended as children's entertainment.

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