Spain bank halts evictions after second suicide

A Spanish savings bank halted all home-owner evictions at the weekend after a ruined client threw herself out of a window to her death, unleashing anti-bank protests in the streets.

The decision by Kutxabank, a lender in the northern Basque Country, was unprecedented in Spain, where banks and homeowners have been financially crushed by a 2008 property crash.

It was the second suicide linked to the eviction of a financially distressed home owner in 15 days.

Right-leaning Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy promised on Friday to offer proposals to ease the pressure on home-owners on Monday in talks with the opposition Socialists.

"The president of Kutxabank, Mario Fernandez, has instructed that the entity should immediately halt all mortgage-related eviction procedures until the new related regulations are known," the bank said Saturday.

The suspension of evictions only affects loans on people's primary homes, it said.

The previous day, 53-year-old former Socialist politician Amaia Egana committed suicide by hurling herself out of her apartment window "as the bailiffs were to evict her from her home," Basque police said.

Her suicide came 15 days after 53-year-old Jose Luis Domingo hanged himself shortly before bailiffs came to turn him out of his home in the southern city of Granada.

After the latest suicide, hundreds of people demonstrated on Friday in Madrid and in the victim's municipality of Barakaldo.

With cries of "Guilty! Guilty!" and "Shame! Shame!" the Madrid protesters denounced banks like state-rescued lender Bankia for continuing to evict homeowners struck by unemployment and the eurozone crisis.

A banner reading "credit scam" could be seen hanging next to Caja Madrid -- part of the Bankia group -- as the protesters held a minute's silence for the dead woman.

Debt-struck homeowners have been camping outside Caja Madrid with mats and sleeping bags since October 22, demanding they be spared eviction and have their debts renegotiated.

Last month, a group of top magistrates released a report denouncing the trend of forced evictions, which they said have risen by a fifth this year and totalled 350,000 between 2008 and 2011.

They complained of "extremely aggressive judicial procedures against debtors" who "find themselves defenceless in a crisis that they did not cause."

Rajoy said Friday he hoped that the talks with the opposition would include discussion of a "temporary halt to the evictions which are hitting the most vulnerable families."

He is also seeking ways to make the banks better apply their code of conduct, to renegotiate debts and allow people to remain in their homes. "It's a difficult subject and I hope we will soon be able to give good news to all the Spanish people," Rajoy said.

The eurozone's fourth-largest economy, Spain has been mired in recession since last year, building up a record-high unemployment rate of more than 25 percent.

  • Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future 1 hour 8 minutes ago
    Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future

    It’s more than just its inherent speed, or the whooshing noise that fills the cabin like a school choir jamming with James Hetfield. It’s what it represents in an industry full of skeptics. It’s a portal into the future – a time capsule left by some mad scientist born decades too soon. It’s something that shouldn’t exist. And yet it does.

  • 919 reasons to love: Flickr photo of the day 2 hours 21 minutes ago
    919 reasons to love: Flickr photo of the day

    We've brought you the drive video of the $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder -- an 887-hp hybrid supercar with two electric motors working in harmony with a big 4.6-liter V-8. But how about this? Porsche's hybrid Le Mans racer -- the 919 Hybrid, sent to us by Kevin Leech. Get on board with electrification, folks. Because it's taking over the world.

  • Watch a man drive his three-wheeled Mustang along a Texas highway 8 hours ago
    Watch a man drive his three-wheeled Mustang along a Texas highway

    Some things in life are hard to explain, like why a dentist insists on asking you questions when you clearly can't respond. Or why we call pants "a pair" even though it's just one. Or how about this puzzler: Why a person would drive their Mustang along a Texas highway despite it missing a wheel? Life is full of little mysteries, I guess.

  • Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers
    Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers

    Singaporeans on social media reacted angrily to news that tissue sellers at hawker centres and street corners are being required to pay for an annual licence.

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media.

  • Indonesia’s armed forces chief says “no apology” for warship’s name
    Indonesia’s armed forces chief says “no apology” for warship’s name

    General Moeldoko, the head of Indonesia’s Armed Forces, has clarified that he had not apologised for the naming of a warship after two Indonesian marines who had been involved in the 1965 MacDonald House bombing in Singapore.