Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE) coolly responded to a protester who on Saturday staged an impromptu protest as people were paying their respects to Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, a key figure in Spanish politics who died on Friday after having suffered a cerebral stroke on Wednesday afternoon.
A mortuary chapel was installed within Congress to allow politicians, heads of state and members of the public to pay their respects to the former PSOE leader and deputy prime minister. As mourners filed past, footage from Congress shows a man stopping before Rubalcaba’s coffin and throwing a handful of papers up into the air.
According to government sources cited by Europa Press, the protester wanted to talk to the prime minister about a legal issue
“I am not moving from here until I see the defense minister or the prime minister,” he said. “I want to speak with the head of the CNI,” he is heard to say, in reference to Spain’s intelligence service.
Responding to the disruption, Sánchez rose from his seat next to the casket and said: “I am the prime minister, come with me.” The acting prime minister then took the protester to another room, accompanied by speaker of Congress Ana Pastor, as Rubalcaba’s family looked on, clearly distressed by the situation.
Sánchez returned to the mortuary chapel moments later. According to government sources cited by the news agency Europa Press, the protester wanted to talk to the prime minister about a legal situation in which he is involved.
Police estimate that around 8,000 people visited the mortuary chapel between Friday and Saturday 2pm to pay their respects to Rubalcaba.
English version by Melissa Kitson.