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Former Madrid premier unapologetic about hit-and-run incident

Esperanza Aguirre tells EL PAÍS she is “shocked” at the “lies” being spread about her

Carlos E. Cué
Esperanza Aguirre says police officers were holding her longer than necessary.
Esperanza Aguirre says police officers were holding her longer than necessary.LUIS SEVILLANO

Esperanza Aguirre is not worried about the fuss she inadvertently created on Thursday after illegally parking her car in the middle of Madrid’s main thoroughfare to withdraw money from a nearby ATM, speeding away when police officers attempted to fine her, knocking down one of their scooters as she made off, being chased all the way to her house and refusing to come out to collect notice of the fine.

In fact, it is the other way around. She is positively indignant about the police’s version of events, and is not considering apologizing for her actions.

“I am shocked at the lies that are being spread; I did not run anyone over,” said Aguirre, a well-known figure in Spanish politics, in a telephone conversation with EL PAÍS. “What happened is that the car I drive now is very long, to carry my grandchildren in, and I accidentally hit and knocked down a motor scooter, but without hitting anybody. They were holding me there to get a photograph. They were hoping that someone on the street, in the middle of Callao square, would take a picture and be able to create a fuss. That’s why I left, to prevent them from getting that picture.”

She has been described as Spain’s Iron Lady and a natural survivor, politically and literally

Now president of the Madrid branch of the ruling Popular Party (PP), Aguirre was premier of the Madrid region from 2003 to 2012, winning re-election three times before suddenly and unexpectedly resigning. She was also the first woman to head the Senate, in 1999. She has been described as Spain’s Iron Lady, a champion of liberal policies, and a natural survivor, politically and literally: in 2005 she walked away unscathed from a helicopter crash involving current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and on November 26, 2008 she escaped the terrorist bloodbath in Mumbai, where she had traveled on a commercial mission.

Aguirre’s account of Thursday’s incident differs from that of the police. “After we did all the paperwork and the officer gave me back my documents,” she explained, “I asked him whether he was going to let me off the fine, and he said no. So I said I was leaving. He explained that I could not leave, and I decided that I was being illegally detained, so I left. And that is when I hit the motor scooter.”

Aguirre, 62, who has a history of controversial statements and public spats, admits that she got very annoyed.

“They were hoping that someone on the street would take a picture,” the former regional leader told EL PAÍS

“It’s true that I said ‘So, a little fine and a little action, eh?’ It was obvious that they wanted to put on a show there, in front of everybody, so people would see me. I’d already gotten my fine, I had already showed them the car papers and my driver’s license, and they had returned it, so I decided to leave.”

Aguirre would not go into details about the car chase down Gran Vía, which continued to her house in the neighborhood of Malasaña.

“It was just a moment; I live nearby. And then they came to my house. They are really exaggerating and spreading a lot of lies. It was all very quick and nothing happened beyond the motor scooter I knocked down, it’s true, but without hurting anybody,” said Aguirre.

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