Municipal police on “witch-hunt” after details of councilor’s drunk driving leaked

Headquarters in Madrid town investigating officers who attended accident involving local official

F. Javier Barroso
Councilor Pilar Araque at a charity event.
Councilor Pilar Araque at a charity event.ayuntamiento de alcorcón

Police in the Madrid dormitory town of Alcorcón say their bosses are on a “witch-hunt” to discover the identities of the officers who leaked details to the media about a road accident involving a local councilor.

Pilar Araque, who was then the social services councilor in Alcorcón, had almost three times the legal limit of alcohol in her bloodstream when she knocked over a 78-year-old woman in the Parque de Lisboa area of town on December 24.

Municipal police headquarters have opened an investigation into the officers who dealt with the incident in order to find out who leaked “unauthorized” data “of a personal nature” relating to the accident.

The incident occurred on 6.30pm on Derechos Humanos street when Araque was driving her Peugeot 207 to her parents’ house and knocked over the woman as she crossed the road. The victim had to spend several days in intensive care at the 12 de Octubre hospital for concussion.

Officers submitted the councilor to a breathalyzer test that showed she had 0.70 milligrams of alcohol per liter of blood in her system — almost three times the legal limit.

A breathalyzer test showed she had almost three times the legal limit of alcohol in her system

On December 26 Araque presented her resignation to Alcorcón Mayor David Pérez, of the Popular Party (PP), which he accepted. However, the length of time she took to leave her post — two days — drew criticism from the opposition.

Nevertheless, the matter is not yet over. On January 2 the head of accidents at the municipal police signed an internal memo ordering the opening of an investigation to find out which officer passed on details of the incident to the media.

The document reminded officers that “the violation of professional secrecy and the lack of proper discretion” regarding the information they gather in the course of their work is a serious offense. According to the Local Police Coordination Law, such an infraction could result in suspension from duties and even discharge from the force.

Until now only those officers who attended the scene of the accident, who arrested the councilor and who took the statement have been notified in the inquiry. The head of the Judicial Police Unit has so far been left out, along with other officials.

Sources at Alcorcón council insist it is an internal investigation, despite the fact that the memo clearly states that it is an informative inquiry. According to the sources, it is not the first time that confidential information has been leaked and investigations such as this have been carried out. There is also the coincidence that similar leaks of information concerning Alcorcón residents have occurred on three or four occasions on the same shift that dealt with the councilor’s accident. That is why, the sources say, they wanted to take measures to avoid such legal violations.

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