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Officers in Spain's Civil Guard calls for demilitarization


dpa German Press Agency
Published: Sunday January 21, 2007


Madrid- In the first rally of its kind, around 3,000
members of Spain's paramilitary Civil Guard called for the more
rights and a demilitarization of their operations.
The calls were for members of the Guardia Civil to be incorporated
into other police units. The demonstrators wore uniforms and their
traditional black badges, local media reports said Sunday.

In Spain demonstrations in uniform are prohibited. The Guardia
Civil, over 150 years old and equally under the interior ministry and
the defence ministry, are barracked and have limited union rights.

A high-ranking politician with the governing Socialists promised
during the election campaign of 2004 to demilitarize the Guardia.

Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba however has said that
though the Socialist government would grant more rights, the unit's
paramilitary status would remain intact.

The demonstration took place at Madrid's Plaza Mayor, known in the
city for its pickpockets and scam artists. According to the daily El
Pais, "the crime rate in the area sank drastically during the police
demonstration."

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency