AN AUDACIOUS operation to highlight just how vulnerable Spanish royalty and celebrities are to assassination may inadvertently lead to the protagonist being thrown in prison for nine years.
Santiago Sanchez Ramirez has found himself the target of furious prosecutors after he himself trained his sights on such targets as King Felipe VI, Cristiano Ronaldo and prime minister Rajoy.
Sanchez, who shares a similar name with famed real-life assassin Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, also known as Carlos the Jackal, filmed himself placing the public figures within the crosshairs of his rifle to show how absurdly easy it was to do so.
From 2012 to 2014 he somehow managed to sneak rifles, pistols, telescopic video cameras and other tools into prime vantage points where he could overlook such events as the King’s coronation and Spain’s national day parades in Madrid.
He claims to have recorded more than 300 such ‘mock murder’ videos where is he positioned in such a way he could actually kill his target, if he happened to be a real assassin, each with captions including ‘the day I could have killed the king’.
On October 12 2012 he filmed himself with practically the entire Spanish Royal Family in his crosshairs as he peeked through room 432 of the Palacio Hotel with an M-60 machine gun and two Uzis.
El Sniper also sent photographs of him targeting Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and club president Florentino Perez outside Real Madrid’s training ground, and even hired masked actors to lend dramatic urgency to his live action videos.
Sanchez posted many of the videos online before eventually being arrested in summer 2014. Police found his armoury, most of which were replicas or deactivated but some were real. He is now charged with possessing weapons of war and ammunition.
His defence is that he frequently tried to contact security services to point out his findings but was simply ignored. He claims to have the proper permits but sheer embarrassment may force the court to impose some kind of punishment.