UK & World News

  • 10 November 2012, 16:02

Spain: Suicide Death Jump As Bailiffs Move In

A mother in Spain jumped to her death as bailiffs approached to evict her from her fourth-floor flat, officials have said.

Amaia Egana's death was the country's second apparent suicide linked to evictions, with authorities under mounting pressure to ease tough mortgage laws.

Around 500 evictions are being carried out each day across Spain, which is beset by a sinking economy.

Mrs Egana reportedly jumped from the balcony of her home in Barakaldo, in the northern city of Bilbao, as bailiffs approached to evict her for failing to pay her mortgage.

She worked at a local bus depot, was married to a former town councillor and had a 21-year-old daughter.

While protests against Spain's mortgage rules took place in Madrid, neighbours of the 53-year-old held a vigil outside her building.

One of them, Francisco Algazira, said: "Shame on the government for these things.

"They are cutting and cutting and we can't live anymore. The same thing that happened to that woman could happen to me tomorrow."

Jose Luis, a 52-year-old former teacher, said: "They need to stop rescuing the banks and start rescuing people because we are heading nowhere and the loan sharks must have a limit."

Local judge Juan Carlos Mediavilla told reporters that it was "necessary to amend current mortgage legislation" to prevent a recurrence of such events.

And employment and social security minister Fatima Banez said the government deeply regretted Mrs Egana's death.

On Thursday the European Court of Justice's advocate general, Juliane Kokott, handed down a non-binding legal opinion that criticised Spanish legal rules regarding evictions.

The ruling came in response to a query from a Spanish court on a 2011 lawsuit over an eviction due to an unpaid mortgage.

Ms Kokott said the Spanish system did not sufficiently protect consumers against possible abusive clauses in mortgage contracts.

In October, Jose Miguel Domingo, 53, was found dead in the courtyard of his building in Granada moments after bailiffs appeared to evict him.

A day later, another 53-year-old man, who had been unemployed for four years, jumped out of his apartment window in the eastern town of Burjassot as eviction loomed. He survived but with injuries.

Spain's unemployment rate stands at 25% and the government predicts its economy - which is now in recession - will not grow until 2014.

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