Spain's politicians pledge to stop evictions after suicide

MADRID Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:21am IST

The Spanish Platform of People Evicted by Bankia (PAH) members protest in solidarity with the family of a man who committed suicide in Granada on Thursday, at Catalunya square in Barcelona October 26, 2012. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino/Files

The Spanish Platform of People Evicted by Bankia (PAH) members protest in solidarity with the family of a man who committed suicide in Granada on Thursday, at Catalunya square in Barcelona October 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Gustau Nacarino/Files

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MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's conservative prime minister and the leader of the opposition aim to agree measures on Monday to stop banks evicting homeowners after a woman's suicide before her property was repossessed caused public outrage.

"No one should be without a home for not being able to pay," Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, leader of the opposition Socialist Party said on Saturday.

Northern Spanish mortgage lender Kutxabank said it was suspending repossessions after 53-year-old former Socialist councillor Amaia Egana threw herself out of her fourth-storey apartment window in Barakaldo in the Basque Country as court officials came up the stairs to evict her on Friday.

Egana's death, the second eviction-related suicide in Spain in recent weeks, added urgency to an agreement reached on Wednesday between the ruling conservative People's Party and the Socialists to seek a bipartisan deal over repossessions.

Graffiti accusing bankers of murder and calling for an end to evictions appeared on some bank branches in the Basque Country on Saturday, Spanish media reported.

"We are living through things that no one likes to see, situations that are competely inhumane," Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told a political meeting hours after Egana's death. "I hope that on Monday we'll be able to talk about a temporary suspension of evictions for the most vulnerable families."

One measure would be to grant grace periods, Spanish media reported. Rajoy said the rules would not be retroactive, while Rubalcaba called for previous evictions to be included.

There have been nearly 400,000 evictions in Spain since a property bubble burst in 2008. Unemployment hit 25 percent in the third quarter, a record high and the European Commission expects the economy to contract 1.4 percent this year and next as the second recession since the end of 2009 drags on.

Last week, European Union Advocate General Juliane Kokott issued a non-binding report concluding that Spanish legislation on evictions contradicts European norms for protecting consumer rights. Eur ope's highest court will now have to del iver an opinion.

Jose Miguel Domingo, a newsstand owner in Granada, in southern Spain, hung himself on October 25, before he was due to lose his home, local media reported.

The same week an unemployed man in Burjassot, a town in the eastern region of Valencia, threw himself off a balcony on the day his family was to be evicted from their apartment. Reports said the man survived the fall.

(Reporting By Iciar Reinlein; Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Writing by Tracy Rucinski; editing by Jason Webb)

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