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Brother of Luis de Guindos cross-examined over Madrid Arena tragedy
thinkSPAIN , Monday, February 4, 2013

THE brother of Spain's finance minister has been called by the courts to testify in connection with the Madrid Arena tragedy which caused the death of five young women, together with the chief of police and the city's emergency services coordinator.

Antonio de Guindos (pictured), councillor for citizen safety in Madrid and whose brother Luis is minister for finance in the central government, is in charge of the city's police forces and would have been responsible for ensuring sufficient numbers of officers were on duty at the Hallowe'en party.

Head of the Local Police, Emilio Monteagudo and the then councillor for emergency services, Fátima Núñez, are also required to give statements.

Monteagudo reportedly failed to prevent a mass bring-your-own-bottle drinking party in the car park, which had actually been set aside for the purpose by the organisers, despite city and regional bye-laws forbidding alcohol consumption in the open air in public areas.

Núñez was supposed to have coordinated the police and ensure emergency ambulances staffed with paramedics were on duty, but health authorities were not even contacted to tell them the party was happening.

Although councillor for the economy Pedro Calvo and the alderman, or deputy mayor Miguel Ángel Villanueva have already been removed from their posts as a result of the tragedy, Madrid's mayoress Ana Botella kept De Guindos in his role because she considered him 'the most important person in the city council'.

And De Guindos himself says he will not stand down unless and until a judge finds him guilty.

Simón Viñals, former PP councillor, who was head of health operations on the night of the party the doctor on duty at the fiesta – who was actually retired at the time – and his son Carlos Viñals Larruga, are both also required to testify for their involvement.

Emergency ambulance coordinators accused Viñals Senior of not doing everything he could to save the lives of three of the girls who died, to which he replied, “all night looking after people who were drunk and now they throw this at me.”

Dr Viñals said at the time the means he had to hand were totally insufficient for a party of the size of the one at Madrid Arena.

His son Carlos, doctor and council consultant who is head of the occupational health department, was helping his father that night, even though he is not supposed to carry out any paid work outside of the council.

But Dr Viñals Junior says he did not get paid for that night and was only helping his father as a favour.

Three girls died at the scene – Cristina Arce, Katia Esteban Casielles and Rocío Oña Pineda, all aged 18 – after being crushed to death in a stampede as revellers tried to enter the building.

Belén Langdon, 17, was rushed to hospital and died two days later without regaining consciousness, and María Teresa Alonso, 20, spent a month in a deep coma before passing away.

It has since been found that entry controls were minimal, emergency exits sealed off and the maximum capacity of the venue exceeded by over 100 per cent.

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