‘Sniper’ who simulated assassination of Spain’s king faces jail

Gunman also had Real Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in his sights

A would-be sniper, who had Spain’s King Felipe VI and dozens of other public figures in his sights as part of an elaborate plan to embarrass the country’s security forces, could be facing a nine-year jail term.

Santiago Sánchez Ramírez’s obsession with highlighting weaknesses in security for leading public figures was such that he claims to have carried out 300 “fake assassinations” in recent years, with members of the royal family and senior politicians frequently among his targets.

Last week, Mr Sánchez Ramírez went on trial in Madrid for charges related to illegal possession of weapons.

In June 2014, the faux sniper managed to take a cache of weapons up to a hotel room in central Madrid with a view of the Congress building opposite, where Prince Felipe was being crowned following the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos I. With a camera aimed through his telescopic sight, he then filmed the new king emerging from Congress. But no shots were fired.


“I got to the hotel just like any other person,” Mr Sánchez Ramírez told El Confidencial newspaper. “I had the guns in a suitcase. They were totally real. And I took them through all the police controls, I just had to show my ID card and say I was going to the hotel. That’s it. Nobody said a thing to me.”

Vantage points

A documentary-style video he made, titled The day I could have killed the king, details many of his exploits and features actors he hired. The video reportedly shows him handling weapons from sniper vantage points and also includes footage of many of his would-be targets.

In total, Mr Sánchez Ramírez says he could have killed Felipe on six occasions and his father on 12. “The first time I ‘killed’ King Juan Carlos I had to sit on the bed for half an hour until I’d calmed down,” he told El Confidencial.

In one of his earlier exploits, Mr Sánchez Ramírez trained his sights on the then prince and a number of political leaders as they turned out for the October 12th national holiday parade in Madrid in 2012. Prime minister Mariano Rajoy and then-Socialist Party leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba also appeared in his crosshairs.

“It could have been the biggest assassination in history,” he said.

According to a report by the Civil Guard, he was in possession at one time or another of 15 guns – including rifles, machine guns and hand guns – between 2009 and July of 2014, when he was arrested. Initial charges of attempting to murder the king were subsequently dropped.

He also carried out fake attacks on famous football players. Authorities were alerted when he posted on social media footage of Real Madrid stars including Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale through a telescopic sight.

Guy Hedgecoe

Guy Hedgecoe

Guy Hedgecoe is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Spain