Top politician charged in 'hit-and-run' scandal

The Local Spain
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Top politician charged in 'hit-and-run' scandal
in a story that refuses to go away, it emerged on Friday that Madrid's courts will now investigate whether Esperanza Aguirre committed a crime. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

In a case of will she? won't she? Spanish politician Esperanza Aguirre, an influential figure in Spain's ruling Popular Party was on Friday finally charged with a crime over an April incident in which she knocked over a police motorbike.


On Thursday, it all seemed clear: the tough-talking head of the Madrid chapter of Spain's ruling PP had not committed a crime when she disobeyed police and knocked over the motorbike she described at the time as "poorly" parked.

In the incident which gave rise to a flood of social media parodies, Aguirre allegedly illegally parked her car on a bus lane on the capital’s busy Gran Via, to withdraw money from an ATM.

Traffic police stopped her moments after, but she refused to pull her Toyota Verso to one side after they had issued the fine. She then fled the scene, knocking over a motorbike and refusing to speak to police who tailed her all the way to her home in the Madrid neighbourhood of Malasaña. 

It was dramatic material, but there was insufficient evidence to charge the politician, Madrid's chief prosecutor Manuel Moix said on Thursday. 

But in a story that refuses to go away, it emerged on Friday that Madrid's courts will now investigate whether a crime had been committed.

The reversal came after court authorities upheld an appeal by Spain's Justice and Transparency group. That group argued that "any other normal citizen would have ended up in a holding cells with handcuffs on his or her wrists" facing a day in court. 


A lawyer for Justice and Transparency on Friday said he was "very happy" with the result. 

"Disobeying a police officer is a crime, not a misdemeanour," he added.

The upgrading of the charge means Aguirre could face a penalty of up to 12 months in prison.

However, Aguirre would be unlikely to face prison if found guilty, as most Spanish sentences under two years do not involve jail time if the person sentenced has no criminal record, Spain's 20 minutos newspaper reported.



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