Santiago Abascal, the leader of Spain’s far-right Vox party, is under investigation following incendiary remarks he made about Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
During an interview with the Argentine newspaper Clarín on December 10, Abascal suggested a time might come when people would want to “hang [Sánchez] by the feet.”
The Spanish prosecutor’s office, as reported Friday by Spanish outlet El País and confirmed by elDiario.es, will determine whether Abascal’s statements constitute crimes of slander, libel, hate and discrimination, or serious threats to the government.
Socialist ministers condemned Abascal’s remarks.
“Violence is the antithesis of democracy,” government spokesperson Pilar Alegría said at the time, expressing expectation of Abascal’s conviction.
A week after he made the remarks, Abascal said they were metaphorical. He did not want anyone to be hung by the feet, “not even a … traitor,” he added, alluding to Sánchez.
Spain’s ruling Socialist Party (PSOE) had filed a complaint, saying Abascal’s words could amount to serious threats against the government and hate speech. Due to Abascal’s immunity as a deputy, the investigation falls within the purview of the prosecutor for the high court. Such proceedings don’t necessarily lead to a lawsuit; prosecutors may conclude Abascal committed no crime or that his parliamentary immunity applies.
In January, the PSOE filed another complaint after a crowd of 300 people battered a dummy resembling Sánchez at a New Year’s Eve event in Madrid. Labeling it as possible “incitement to hatred” against Sánchez, the party sought to identify those responsible.
Sánchez has faced widespread criticism, particularly from the right-wing opposition and judiciary, over his controversial amnesty deal with Catalan separatists. That pact was pivotal in securing his new term as prime minister.
Sergey Goryashko is hosted at POLITICO under the EU-funded EU4FreeMedia residency program.