* Tens of thousands evicted after property crash
* Public accuses banks of lacking compassion
* Rajoy calls for faster cross-party reform talks
By Nigel Davies
MADRID, Nov 12 Spain's top parties will tackle
eviction law reform on Monday after a homeowner's suicide
provoked public fury and accusations that politicians and banks
are complicit in de facto "murder".
Close to 400,000 Spaniards have lost their homes since a
property bubble burst in 2008 and the nation subsequently sank
into recession, throwing millions out of work and unable to keep
up mortgage payments to the banks.
However, the suicide of 53-year-old Amaia Egana has inflamed
a public already angered by what they see as a lack of
compassion among Spanish banks, many of which have benefited
from taxpayer-funded bailouts organised by the political elite.
Egana, a former Socialist councillor in northern Spain,
jumped to her death from her fourth-storey flat on Friday as
bailiffs were trying to evict her under foreclosure laws.
Public pressure prompted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to
call for officials from his conservative People's Party and the
opposition Socialists to speed up talks on reforming the
eviction laws when they meet on Monday.
Fans at a Primera Liga soccer match on Saturday protested
about the fate of Egana, who killed herself in the Basque town
of Barakaldo, and countless others who are losing their homes.
"They're not suicides. They're murders. The banks and
politicians are accomplices. Stop the evictions!" read a banner
held up by supporters of Rayo Vallecano, which plays in a
working class district of Madrid.
Heads of the economy departments of both parties were
expected to look at the possibility of granting moratoriums on
mortgage payments for families in dire straits and to change the
legal proceedings that lead up to an eviction.
Egana's death, and another eviction-related suicide in
October, have intensified a popular backlash with many accusing
the banks - some of which have received part of an up to 100
billion euro European bailout - of callous disregard for the
effects of unemployment, which has hit 25 percent.
However, a number of banks themselves are in dire straits
because of the failure of many borrowers, ranging from small
homeowners to major property developers, to repay their debts.
In the Basque Country, where Egana killed herself, other
worried homeowners fear they too will be evicted soon.
"I am depressed, I feel bad, I can't sleep at night," said
Fabian Herrera, an Ecuadorean immigrant. "I wake up and go back
to bed only thinking that tomorrow it might be us who have to
leave our home and return it to the bank, and where are we going
to live?" Herrera and his wife are out of work and have stopped
paying their mortgage.
As property prices have tumbled about 30 percent, hundreds
of thousands of people who took on huge mortgages during the
boom years now owe more than their apartment or house is worth.
Under Spanish law, even when borrowers turn over their homes
to the bank, they still owe the entire amount of the mortgage.
A citizens' movement called "Stop Evictions" has campaigned
for more than a year, organising protests outside apartment
buildings to block court workers from evicting families.
The pressure by Stop Evictions and other groups led the
government to ask banks earlier this year to forgive mortgage
debt for properties worth less than 200,000 euros and where all
family members are unemployed. But consumer groups say the
voluntary code of ethics for banks did not go far enough.
A group of top judges has pushed for a cross-party agreement
on eviction reform, and a police union said it will support
officers who refuse to take part in an eviction.
On Saturday northern Spanish mortgage lender Kutxabank said
it was suspending repossessions after the suicide of Egana.
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. Europe's highest court will deliver a ruling on the