- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

MADRID (AP) - A group of neighbors who said they were “tortured” by booming music and other noise from a Barcelona pub may finally get some shut-eye after a court sentenced the owner to more than five years in prison.

The court said the owner ignored repeated complaints from neighbors living in apartments above the pub in Las Ramblas, one of the city’s most popular nightlife districts.

The court handed down the sentence last week but it was only widely reported in Spanish media on Monday. A court official confirmed the sentence, which can be appealed.

Such sentences against noisy bars are not uncommon in Spain. But this one is unprecedented in that part of the sentence is for physical and psychological damages, according to Lluis Gallardo, a spokesman for a Catalan noise pollution association.

The court also ordered pub owner Maria del Carmen Ahijado to pay a fine of more than euro17,000 ($22,000) to each of three families that had filed suit against her.

The owner installed a music system with five speakers that made “the whole structure vibrate,” sometimes from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., the neighbors said in the complaint.

They also complained about screaming and hollering, and could clearly hear the songs and conversations in the pub. They said one of the plaintiffs had had to seek treatment for anxiety, depression and insomnia.

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