Man ar­rested in plot against Span­ish PM

Kingston Whig-Standard - - WORLD NEWS -

BARCELONA, Spain — Span­ish po­lice said Thurs­day they have ar­rested a man who they be­lieve in­tended to at­tack Span­ish Prime Min­is­ter Pe­dro Sanchez over his con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion to ex­hume the re­mains of late dic­ta­tor Gen. Fran­cisco Franco.

Po­lice say the 63-year-old for­mer pri­vate se­cu­rity guard was ar­rested in the town of Ter­rassa in the Cat­alo­nia re­gion on Sept. 19 af­ter a brief in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He re­mains in cus­tody and has not been charged.

The case was re­vealed Thurs­day by Span­ish news­pa­per Publico.

Po­lice said they found 16 firearms in the sus­pect’s home, rang­ing from hand­guns to sniper ri­fles, but did not ex­plain how he had man­aged to amass such an arse­nal.

“This per­son had a clear in­ten­tion and will to take ac­tions against the prime min­is­ter,” Cata­lan re­gional po­lice spokesman Al­bert Oliva told jour­nal­ists. He added that the sus­pect did not ap­pear to have con­crete plans, but had been ask­ing for lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port on a What­sApp group chat.

Ac­cord­ing to Oliva, the sus­pect wrote in one of the mes­sages that he was “will­ing to sac­ri­fice (him­self ) for Spain” and that he showed no con­cern over the le­gal con­se­quences of car­ry­ing out an at­tack.

Po­lice say the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched af­ter an uniden­ti­fied per­son who had read the sus­pect’s mes­sages alerted them.

The far-right VOX party, which op­poses the ex­huma­tion of Franco, is­sued a state­ment Thurs­day say­ing one of its lo­cal co-or­di­na­tors in­formed po­lice of the sus­pect’s plans af­ter read­ing them on a What­sApp group chat. VOX said the sus­pect was not af­fil­i­ated to the party.

Spain’s cen­tre-left govern­ment de­cided ear­lier this year to ex­hume Franco’s re­mains from a self-ag­gran­diz­ing mau­soleum, but of­fi­cials have strug­gled to find an ap­pro­pri­ate new burial place.

Rel­a­tives and sup­port­ers of the late dic­ta­tor op­pose the ex­huma­tion. If the govern­ment goes ahead, Franco’s fam­ily wants his body rein­terred un­der Madrid’s cathe­dral — a move that could un­der­mine ef­forts to rid the coun­try of his long shadow.

Sanchez on Thurs­day thanked po­lice for their work and said that he was grate­ful for the show of sup­port he re­ceived.

The govern­ment played down the sus­pected plot, call­ing it an iso­lated in­ci­dent.

OS­CAR DEL POZO/GETTY IM­AGES

Po­lice say they have ar­rested a man who they be­lieve was plan­ning an at­tack on Span­ish Prime Min­is­ter Pe­dro Sanchez, above.

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