Being an annoying neighbor usually isn’t the kind of thing that lands one in prison, but for one Spanish family in Puigcerdà, Girona, that might be about to change.
El Pais reports that prosecutors have charged a professional musician, Laia Martin, with crimes against the environment (acoustic contamination) and psychological damage caused to her neighbor, Sonia Bosom. If convicted, the 27-year-old Martin — and her family, who are being charged as accessories to the fact— could face seven and a half years in prison. The musician could also face fines and damages totalling 20,700 euros and could be banned from playing piano professionally for four years.
It seems ridiculous, but if reports by Bosom are true, the punishment may fit the crime. She accuses Martin of practicing piano eight hours a day, five days a week, from 2003-2007. Moreover, according to El Pais, medical reports show that Bosom suffered “hearing damage, panic attacks and problems during her pregnancy” as a result of “environmental auditory stress.” Bosom finally left Puigcerdà in 2007, but says she has since had to take time off from work due to the damage caused by Martin’s incessant playing. The AP reports that city authorities asked the family multiple times to either stop playing the piano, or soundproof their practice room. Officials also tested the noise coming from Martin’s piano and found it to be 10 decibels above the town’s 30 decibel limit for musical instruments.
The defense denies these accusations, saying that Martin, spent much her time taking classes outside of town, and thus tended to practice piano in her home only on weekends. Moreover, the family maintains they attempted two separate soundproofings, but the complaints continued unabated.
While Bosom plight certainly seems pitiable, perhaps she should be counting her blessings. Listening to non-stop piano practice is no fun, but can you imagine if Martin had joined a band?