Police quiz Popular Party members over attack
25 January 2005, MADRID-Police are to interview two members of the conservative opposition Popular Party in connection with a disturbance at a rally in which a Spanish minister was mobbed.
25 January 2005
MADRID-Police are to interview two members of the conservative opposition Popular Party in connection with a disturbance at a rally in which a Spanish minister was mobbed.
Isidoro Barrios and Toñi de la Cruz both appeared in photographs taken at the time of the incidents in which Defence Minister Jose Bono was manhandled and forced to leave the demonstration.
Bono had to run the gauntlet after being threatened with an iron bar and insulted for several minutes after walking with the marchers rather than with VIP guests, including other high-ranking politicians.
The demonstration was organised by associations for victims of terrorism in Madrid and was largely peaceful.
Since the incident, there have been claims that the insults were directed by right-wing elements at the Socialist minister.
But Isidoro Barrios denied any involvement in the incident.
"I am a peaceful person. I would not attack anyone; I would not be able to," he said.
The Spanish government condemned the unruly behaviour of some demonstrators.
A government statement regretted the "violent and intolerant" incident at
Saturday's march, which saw demonstrations against the Socialist government elected last March, three days after the Madrid train bombings.
They said such incidents showed an "absolute disregard for the pain of the victims" of terrorism, the statement went on.
Blaming "extreme rightwing elements" for the fracas Bono told Cadena Ser radio he was outraged that anyone "could exploit such an occasion for political gain."
Some participants at the march, designed largely to remember ten months on the 191 victims of the Madrid train bombings but also to note the continued threat from armed Basque separatist group ETA, voiced disapproval at Zapatero's absence and instead targeted Bono.
Gustavo de Aristegui, foreign affairs spokesman for the Popular Party which lost a general election three days after the bombings, the worst attack in Spain's history and assumed to be the work of Islamic extremists, blamed a "minority of troublemakers" for Saturday's incidents.
He said they were nothing to do with his party.
Some demonstrators converged on the headquarters of Cadena Ser, which is seen as being close to the Socialist Party, as they chanted for Spanish unity in the face of an ongoing attempt by Basque nationalists to upgrade their existing autonomy for "free association" status with Madrid.
The government and mainstream opposition parties maintain that the move is unconstitutional and doomed to failure, although Zapatero, while refusing to
budge on the issue, did hold talks earlier this month in Madrid with Basque regional leader Juan Jose Ibarretxe.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news