Spanish pianist found not guilty in noise pollution trial

Laia Martin acquitted of charges of noise contamination

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Spanish pianist Laia Martin has been found not guilty in the case that accused her of causing noise contamination and psychological damage with her daily piano practice.

In a trial that has attracted worldwide attention, Martin’s neighbour Sonia Bonsom stated that the ‘noise pollution’ from the pianist’s practice between 2003 and 2007 caused her to develop serious health problems from anxiety.

Bonsom claimed that Martin was playing for eight hours each day and that this was disrupting her sleep. Martin, a student in the Catalan town of Puigcerdà at the time, insisted that this was not the case and that she often practised elsewhere.

‘This has caused me a great deal of stress,’ Bonsom told the court. ‘There was even a moment when I couldn’t move my arm because of anxiety.’

The pianist was facing a prison sentence of 20 months and a four-year ban from any profession involving the piano, as well as a 20,000 euro (£16,700) fine.

When the trial revealed that Bonsom had exaggerated her symptoms, and that Martin had made every effort to soundproof the room in which she played, all charges were dropped and the judge expressed his disapproval at how long the case had been allowed to go on.

During the trial, Bonsom claimed to have moved house with her family to escape the noise and she told the court that she can no longer stand to hear a piano.

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