Suspect detained in Murcia over politician assault

Popular Party accuses government of "painting targets" on local officials

Police arrested a man on Monday in connection with the assault of Murcia regional culture chief Pedro Alberto Cruz, who was attacked and savagely beaten on Saturday by three men. Cruz is still recovering from his injuries in hospital.

José David Baño Llorente, who is expected to appear in court today, has been linked to an extremist group connected with soccer, and was charged with participating in violent disturbances at Real Murcia's Rico Pérez stadium in 2008.

The Popular Party has accused the government of "painting a target" on its officials' backs by attacking spending cuts made by the region's PP government. The Socialists also alluded to Cruz's family ties in the region; he is the nephew of the wife of regional premier Ramón Luis Valcárcel. Cruz's assailants shouted "councilor, big nephew, son of a bitch" during the attack.

The PP's number two, María Dolores de Cospedal, denied that her party was laying the blame for the attack on the government, as Public Works Minister José Blanco had claimed. But she criticized the Socialist candidate in Murcia for attending a march in the city. "Attending a protest that stops outside the home of a regional premier to attack that premier or his daughter crosses all political lines," she said.