SPANISH ELECTION 2015

Spanish PM attacker was “euphoric” after punch, say witnesses

Seventeen-year-old who hit Mariano Rajoy in Galicia said he would happily do it again

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy addresses a rally in A Coruña with marks from the punch visible on his face.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy addresses a rally in A Coruña with marks from the punch visible on his face.Cabalar / EFE

After punching Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the face during a campaign event in Pontevedra, Andrés V. F. appeared euphoric, according to people who witnessed the incident on Wednesday.

The 17-year-old, who has ties to hooliganism, was immediately reduced by security personnel and dragged into a nearby business, a real-estate agency called Pedrosa.

Andrés V. F. lowered his head, but soon began looking proud again and repeatedly smiled at his father

When he emerged again, the high-school student was greeted by a small group of people applauding him for carrying out the assault. Andrés V. F. smiled and raised his thumb in victory.

The police officers at the scene said that this made him feel that he had done a good thing by assaulting the candidate for the conservative Popular Party (PP), who was campaigning in northern Spain ahead of Sunday’s general election.

That was when the suspect declared that he was proud of what he had done and that he would “of course” do it again.

Reaching out to Artur Mas

Javier Casqueiro

Mariano Rajoy has not altered his campaign agenda over the Wednesday incident. On Thursday he traveled to Barcelona, where he offered to sit down for talks with Catalan premier Artur Mas over the independence drive.

Rajoy said that despite the apparent lack of communication between both leaders in recent times, he has never declined any request for conversations “both in La Moncloa and elsewhere.”

Talks between the two leaders – some of which Rajoy said took place in secret – broke down in 2014, when Catalonia held an unofficial referendum on independence.

According to his friends on cellphone application Whatsapp, where he is known as “Capi,” Andrés had told them that Rajoy was in town and that he was going over to assault him.

His friends replied with what they described later as humorous comments: “Kill him, Capi. Thumbs in the eyes and then spit in the cavities.”

The youngsters said it had never occurred to them that Andrés would really go and hit the politician. They also claimed that they were not with him at Peregrina square at the time of the assault, and that it was not them who cheered.

Andrés took a selfie, posted it to the Whatsapp group, and at 6.39pm announced that he was walking out of the house to go get Rajoy. Ten minutes later, he delivered the blow. His friends say they found out about it in the news.

Down at the police station, the suspect had several conversations with police officers. Asked about the reasons for his behavior, the reply was: “I hit him because he had two salaries.”

Shortly after, another officer interrogated the suspect in front of the latter’s father and his lawyer. The officer told him that he should reflect on the consequences of his actions, because he would forever be the man who attacked the prime minister, and that it might cause him problems in finding a job in the future.

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Andrés V. F. reportedly lowered his head for a while, but soon began looking proud again and repeatedly smiled at his father. His mother had remained at home after suffering an anxiety attack.

People in contact with the suspect immediately after the assault said he was not acting normally. Andrés V. F. had been a regular cannabis consumer until two months ago and was undergoing a rehab treatment that included tranquillizers.

Early on Thursday he was taken to a juvenile court, where the judge took a statement from him.

PP sources have also explained the reported relationship between the prime minister and his assailant: the suspect’s grandmother had family ties to the father of Rajoy’s wife, Elvira Fernández. But this kinship was “not direct” and both individuals were deceased, party sources added.

English version by Susana Urra.