Spanish gov't sets heavy fines for violent protests, insults to police and state

The Spanish government has approved draft legislation that sets fines of up to 30,000 euros ($40,800) for offenses such as burning the national flag, insulting the state or causing serious disturbances outside Parliament.

The draft Citizen Security Bill presented Friday by Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diez has been heavily criticized by opposition parties, judicial and social groups as an attempt by the conservative government to muzzle protests against its handling of the severe economic crisis.

The measures, an update of a 1992 law, also include fines of up to 1,000 euros for insulting or threatening police officers during demonstrations.

Similar fines are planned for disseminating photographs of police officers that endanger them or police operations.

The bill must be approved by Parliament, where the ruling party has an absolute majority.