Crown Prince Felipe presided over the funeral of a Spanish sergeant who was killed on Friday in Afghanistan as he attempted to deactivate an explosive device. The prince and Defense Minister Pedro Morenés were the only state and government representatives present at the ceremony, during which the service member received the Red Cross of Military Merit posthumously.
Despite having no official activity on his agenda, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy did not attend the funeral rites for David Fernández Ureña, whose body will be cremated on Monday in Granada, where he had lived most of his life despite being born in the Basque city of Bilbao. The opposition Socialist Party criticized the prime minister´s absence from the ceremony.
Fernández Ureña, 35, was part of an explosives disposal unit assisting an Afghan army combat post. He had joined the 12th Engineer and Pontoon Regiment in 2008.
This is the first death of a Spanish serviceman in Afghanistan since the Popular Party (PP) took power in November, 2011. In February 2010, the PP criticized then-Socialist leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero for not attending the funeral of a soldier who died in Afghanistan, which coincided with his visit to the US to meet with President Barack Obama.
One hundred members of the Spanish military and two nationalized interpreters have died since the beginning of the mission in Afghanistan in 2002.