Mourners at Martín Carpena's funeral at Malaga Cathedral. / SUR

15 July 2000: Malaga city councillor assassinated by ETA

The Basque separatist group was responsible for the shooting of PP politician José María Martín Carpena in front of his wife and daughter

Jennie Rhodes

On 15 July 2000 the Basque separatist group ETA was behind the shooting of Malaga city councillor Martín Carpena outside his home in Calle Martínez de la Rosa.

The victim, along with his wife and daughter, was leaving the house on his way to an official engagement when a young man approached him and opened fire.

The assassin, Jon Igor Solana Matarrán, had been lurking in the neighbourhood for some time, waiting for his opportunity.

After shooting Carpena four times, Solana Matarrán fled the scene and disappeared. Carpena died before emergency services were able to reach him.

As the news of his death spread, numerous colleagues arrived to comfort the family who had witnessed the killing. Among them were the ex-mayor of Malaga and then Spanish health minister, Celia Villalobos, who was in the city to attend the same event that Carpena had been on his way to.

José María Martín Carpena had been a city councillor for the Partido Popular at Malaga city hall since 1997 and was involved in projects centred around the development of the Carretera de Cádiz and Puerto de la Torre districts.

Malaga's sports arena to the west of the city opened a year after Martín Carpena's death and it was named after him. Its full name is Palacio de Deportes José María Martín Carpena and the venue has since seen a number of important sports and cultural events; it is also home to Malaga's Unicaja basketball team.

In 2018 Elton John performed there and in 2020, the Spanish equivalent to the Oscars, the Goyas, took place in the stadium, making it the first time ever the ceremony was held outside Madrid.

Three days after Carpena's death, the then deputy secretary general of the Andalusian branch of the PSOE (Socialist party), José Asenjo, narrowly escaped death when a 1.5-kilo bomb was placed under his car but failed to detonate.

Asenjo was also leaving his home with his wife and daughter, this time in Malaga's Cerrado de Calderón neighbourhood when the incident took place.