Traffic case against ex-Madrid premier Esperanza Aguirre is dismissed

Judge rules offense filed against Esperanza Aguirre is no longer part of the Penal Code

Esperanza Aguirre, the president of Madrid's Popular Party (PP) chapter, seen on Tuesday.
Esperanza Aguirre, the president of Madrid's Popular Party (PP) chapter, seen on Tuesday.EFE

A Madrid investigative judge has dismissed a traffic complaint filed against former regional premier Esperanza Aguirre for fleeing the scene after she was stopped by police officers for double-parking in a bus lane in July 2014.

Judge Ángel Luis Ortiz González, who canceled her upcoming trial set for October, ruled that Aguirre cannot be charged with any of the violations filed against her because they are no longer valid under recent changes made to the Penal Code by Congress.

Under the new law, certain violations were reclassified as minor offenses or administrative sanctions

Under the new law, which took effect on July 1, certain misdemeanors were reclassified as minor offenses or administrative sanctions.

Aguirre had been charged with disobeying police officers  – a misdemeanor – after she was stopped for double parking in a bus lane on Madrid’s Gran Vía, while she went to a nearby ATM to withdraw some cash.

According to police, the Popular Party (PP) official handed over her vehicle documents but then complained that she was being held longer than necessary because of her celebrity status. She drove off, knocking over a police motorcycle, which resulted in a car chase that ended at her home in Malasaña, where the confrontation continued.

The Madrid High Court overturned a judge's dismissal before the new Penal Code took effect

The argument outside her home was captured by a street surveillance camera and sparked a string of television parodies. The case also became a major campaign issue after Aguirre announced that she was running for mayor – a race the PP lost this year to Ahora Madrid's Manuela Carmena.

The parties went to court last September to give their sides of the story.

In his ruling, Judge Ortiz also referred to the prosecution’s opinion that “it won’t oppose” the dismissal because “the violation is no longer a crime” under the new Penal Code.

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Ortiz also mentioned a ruling by the Madrid regional High Court last May which ordered Aguirre to stand trial after another judge, Carlos Valle, had dismissed the case in January.

The regional High Court had decided that Aguirre’s actions could fall into the category of “disobedience” misdemeanors, but now Ortiz has ruled that the law has been changed since then.

In addition, the judge said that Antonio Rafael Alarcón, the officer who was driving the scooter, “did not have any signs of injuries,” making it impossible to try Aguirre for bodily injuries.

This was the second recent legal victory for Aguirre.

On Wednesday, Efe News Agency reported that the Madrid regional High Court has dismissed a defamation complaint filed by Podemos against the former regional premier for publicly alleging during the election campaign that the anti-austerity party may have links to Basque terrorist group ETA.

English version by Martin Delfín