Spain’s High Court jails man who threatened to kill PM Sanchez for seven years

German Chancellor Scholz and Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez attend a press statement, in BerlinSpanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

Spain’s High Court has sentenced a 65-year-old security guard to a seven-and-half-year prison term for discussing assassinating Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on a far-right WhatsApp chat in 2018 and possessing illegal guns.

Manuel Murillo Sanchez was sentenced to two-and-a-half years for attempted murder and five years for possession of war weapons, a court document released on Tuesday said. He was also prohibited from owning firearms for the next eight years. He can appeal the sentence.

In August 2018, Murillo offered to “hunt down” Sanchez “like a deer and put his head on a chimney” after the Spanish government ordered former dictator Francisco Franco’s body exhumed from a state mausoleum outside Madrid.

Even though Franco’s rule ended with his death in 1975, Spanish public opinion is still divided over the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War, which tore apart families and communities, and the legacy of the ensuing dictatorship.

Over the past 20 years, the attempts of left-wing governments to eliminate the dictatorship’s remnants have prompted the ire of far-right fringe groups nostalgic for the era.

On the chats, Murillo also asked for help to organise an attack and bragged about the guns he owned and his ability as a sharpshooter. “I’m a sniper and with an accurate shot Sanchez is over,” he said.

The judges dismissed Murillo’s defence that he was drunk when making those comments. He has already spent two years in preventive custody between September 2018 and September 2020, when he was released ahead of the ruling.


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