Spanish police investigating the attempted killing of a former rightwing politician who was shot in the face on a busy Madrid street almost two weeks ago have arrested three people including a British woman, according to official sources.
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a former leader of the conservative People’s party (PP) in Catalonia who joined the far-right Vox party in 2014, was attacked in the affluent Salamanca district of the Spanish capital at about 1.30pm local time (1230 GMT) on Thursday 9 November.
The 78-year-old, who also served as a vice-president of the European parliament, survived the attempt after the bullet passed through his jaw without causing more serious injury. The hospital where he is being treated for a double fracture of the jaw said he was continuing to make good progress.
It emerged on Tuesday that three people had been arrested in connection with the incident.
One of the suspects was detained in the southern port city of Málaga and the other two in Granada, a police source told Reuters, confirming early reports from the online newspaper El Confidencial and Cadena SER radio.
The source said two of those arrested were Spanish men and another was a British woman. An anti-terrorism court is in charge of the investigation and police are looking into whether those arrested have links with foreign countries.
A Paris-based Iranian opposition group, the Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, described Vidal-Quadras as a staunch ally and has blamed the Iranian government for the attack.
Police have not confirmed any such theory and a spokesperson for the Iranian embassy in Madrid did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In October 2022, Vidal-Quadras was included in an Iranian sanctions list in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed on the country after the death in custody of a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini.
Amini’s death triggered months of nationwide protests that represented one of the most fierce challenges to the Islamic republic since its establishment in 1979.
The Iranian sanctions included a visa and entry ban on Vidal-Quadras and seizure of any property in Iran.
Vidal-Quadras was a longtime member of the PP and a European parliament member before he broke away to help found Vox. He left Vox shortly after a failed attempt to win a European parliament seat in 2014.
News of the attempt on his life brought expressions of solidarity and support from across Spanish politics.
The PP leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, deplored the shooting and wished for his recovery.
The Socialist leader, Pedro Sánchez, who returned to office as Spain’s prime minister last week, also conveyed his shock and sadness at the attack.
“I offer all my solidarity and my wishes for Alejo Vidal-Quadras’s swift recovery,” he said. “We trust that the investigation will establish the facts and that those responsible will be arrested as soon as possible.”
Reuters contributed to this report