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Mexican to appear in Madrid court for plotting anti-Pope protester gas attack

Reiters/Susana Vera

Mexican chemistry student Jose Alvano Perez Bautista, appears in court Thursday, accused of plotting a gas attack on protesters against Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Spain. Benedict will be officially welcomed in Madrid on the day after protests at public money being used for the Catholic church’s World Youth Day celebrations there.


Bautista, 24, was one of the 30,000 volunteers helping the celebrations in the Spanish capital from 16-21 August.

Police seized his laptop, portable memory and two notebooks containing notes about chemicals not related to his studies, but did not mention finding any chemicals or equipment that could have been used.

Bautista claimed in ultra-conservative and hardline Catholic internet forums that he was planning a gas attack on the Wednesday’s demonstration against the cost of the Pope’s visit, according to El Pais. Visitors to the forums alerted the police.

"The Molotovs are ready. Who will be brave enough to throw one against the back of an anti-papist faggot?" he wrote on La voz libre website.

Gay rights groups plan a “kiss-in” on Thursday to protest at the Catholic church’s condemnation of homosexuality.

Thousands of people protested at the cost of the Pope’s visit – officially 50.5 million euros but put at 100 million euros by some opponents – which include policing and security.

Organisers claim the cost will be covered by a registrations fee from the million-plus  pilgrims expected and that there will be a tourism spin-off for Spain’s economy.

But, as Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero prepares to recall parliament to agree an extra 500-billion euros-worth of cuts and youth unemployment stands at over 45 per cent, opponents object to their taxes being used on the visit by a supposedly secular state.

Police dislodged protesters from the central Puerta del Sol square late Wednesday and some clashes between pilgrims and protesters took place.

A Roman Catholic group called Hazte Oir (Make Yourself Head) called for the protest march to be banned describing it as “an expression of intolerance and religious hatred”.

Pope Benedict left Rome’s Ciamino airport at 9.30 am Thursday. After an official greeting in Madrid-Barajas airport he will drive through the streets in his transparent popemobile to the Vatican ambassador's residence, chased by pilgrims running a relay race.

In the evening, the papal cortege heads to the emblematic Plaza Cibeles in central Madrid for a welcoming ceremony. The Spanish air force will fly over, drawing the colours of the Vatican and Spanish flags in the sky.

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