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Eviction procedures in Spanish courts for unpaid mortgages and rent hit a fresh record last year, a court oversight body said Friday, as a sharp economic downturn and record unemployment continued to take a toll.
Courts executed 75,605 eviction orders in 2012, a 16.7 percent increase over the previous year when a then-record 64,770 eviction orders were carried out, the General Council of Judicial Power said.
That brings to 252,826 the total number of eviction orders executed by courts since 2008 when a decade-long property bubble burst and Spain sank into recession, throwing millions out of work and unable to keep up mortgage or rent payments.
The jump in evictions has become a political hot potato due to a series of suicides by people who were about to be thrown out of their homes and television images of weeping families forced out on the street.
It has also sparked a protest movement which sends activists to block the entrance to homes of people about to be evicted in order to prevent police from forcibly removing them from their homes.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government passed a decree in November which freezes evictions of the most vulnerable homeowners.
The two-year freeze on evictions applies to families earning less than 1,600 euros ($2,070) per month that also meet other conditions such as having a child under three, at least three children, a disabled dependent or being unemployed without benefits.
Spain is grappling with a double-dip recession which has caused the unemployment rate to soar to a record 26 percent.