The Catalan snowboarder Queralt Castellet was unable to take part in yesterday's snowboarding half-pipe competition in the Winter Olympics after she fell while warming-up and briefly lost consciousness, leading the judges to insist she remain under hospital observation for 24 hours (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Castellet, 20, was in a good position to take a medal in the half-pipe final, after an impressive performance in the qualification round—she managed to qualify directly for the final with her first showing in the qualifiers, for which she finished in second place. However, during a final training session some two hours before the final was due to take place, Castellet fell and hit her head on the side of the half-pipe track. When she was given a medical examination, the snow-boarder insisted she felt fine and was able to compete, but the medical team decided she should be transferred to Vancouver Hospital for 24 hours.
Former Spanish prime minister, José María Aznar, has been photographed given the finger to a group of students at the University of Oviedo (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Aznar was at the university to give a speech, but found himself confronted by a group of students calling him a 'war criminal' (criminal de guerra), because of his decision to take Spain into the Iraqi war alongside the US and UK; the students held up various signs and banners protesting against the politician. Some also interrupted his speech, with shouts of "Aznar, fascista—tu eres el terrorista" ("Aznar, fascist—you are the terrorist"); they were expelled from the lecture-hall. It was in reaction to the presence of the protestors that Aznar raised his middle finger, the photo of which has been splashed across Spanish media today.
The Spanish interior minister, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, said yesterday that the Basque terrorist group ETA had been planning to create a base in Catalunya, contradicting an earlier statement by his Catalan equivalent, Joan Saura (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). According to Rubalcaba, having been recently expelled from Portugal and facing heavy police pressure in France, the group was looking to create a new centre of operations in the autonomous community, specifically in a masía (country house) in the Pyrenees close to the French border, as well as in a space in Barcelona from where it could co-ordinate a new wave of attacks. The organiser of the scheme, Faustino Marcos Álvarez, was arrested on Tuesday on a train at the border town of Portbou during a routine check. Álvarez allegedly confessed to police during interrogation on Wednesday that ETA had been looking to set itself up in Catalunya. Saura had earlier spoken in relation to the arrest of two other suspected etarras (members of the group), saying that as far as he knew the men had not been planning an attempt in Catalunya or to set up a base here.
Also in the news: Zapatero makes urgent attempt to bring some parties together to find ways to deal with crisis (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Judge stops removal of points from driving licence for a cyclist who jumped a red traffic light (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); More than 13,000 people use Barcelona's metro every day without paying (read full article in Catalan here, Avui).