Madrid fire service attacks “campaign” against arrested firefighter

Mayor Botella criticizes capital’s PP government delegate over release of public servant's personal details

The Madrid City Fire Service has launched a scathing attack on the municipal authorities for what it termed “a brutal and unjustified campaign of harassment and demolition” against one of its number, Santiago de la Fuente, who was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly headbutting a police officer during a street protest in the city.

Labor union representatives complained that City Hall had “leaked alleged police arrest records protected by the Data Protection Act,” and called on the Popular Party (PP) government delegate in Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, to stop making “barbaric” comments. Cifuentes backed the actions of the police, saying that “if a fireman, an electrician or a politician headbutts a police officer with a helmet, which is no ordinary headbutt, it is a reason to be detained.”

The mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, on Friday made a veiled inference to her opposition to “certain personal questions” in the leaking of the fireman’s personal details and offered the support of her office “to any municipal worker who gets involved in an incident like this in the course of duty.” Botella met with De La Fuente and fire service union representatives following his release late in Thursday. Union members said that the mayor had expressed her “disgust” at the leak of personal details.

The policemen pushed Santiago and when he got back up their helmets may have clashed”

De la Fuente was detained after an altercation between firemen and police during disturbances in the capital this week as demonstrators took to the streets in support of the popular protest movement in Burgos against a development plan in the northern city. The officers had asked the fire crew to move to allow them passage, but the firefighters refused as they were engaged in extinguishing a burning trash container set alight by protestors.

“Santiago asked them to wait two minutes, which is when the officer in charge approached. They exchanged words. The policemen pushed Santiago into a metal barrier and when he got back up their helmets may have clashed,” said a labor union representative.

The union representatives expressed their gratitude to PP city security chief Enrique Núñez for preventing De la Fuente’s continued detention.

“Santiago has no prior record; it is a crude maneuver,” said Rubén Gallego, the head of the CCOO firefighter’s union.

“It is incredible and unconstitutional. I imagine this poisonous campaign is due to the fact the government delegation and Interior Ministry have nothing on Santiago,” added the leader of the CCOO within City Hall, Pedro Delgado.

Alfonso Fernández Díez, the Madrid city police chief, said he was “tremendously calm and proud” concerning the arrest of De la Fuente. “The law has been followed, and it the same for everyone who attacks a public security agent,” he said.

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