Spanish lovers' tiff ends in shotgun tragedy

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The Independent Online

A lovers' tiff between two Spanish teenagers ended in their deaths yesterday, when the 18-year-old youth shot his 15-year-old girlfriend and turned the shotgun on himself.

The couple, who had been together for several years, have been referred to only by his first name, Albert, and her initials, M L. Albert's mother called police after she found the bodies in the garage of the family home near the north-west town of Tarragona when she got up yesterday.

Police did not rule out a Romeo-and-Juliet suicide pact. The pair were said to get on well and had never had disagreements in public. The night before their death, they had been drinking with friends in the bar at the village of Mas de Barberans.

The pair, who went to school together and were childhood sweethearts, were well known as a couple in the village.

The death brought to 20 the number of women killed by domestic violence in Spain this year, four in the past week that included the May Day holiday weekend. Since January, four children have been killed by their parents, statistics that deal a blow to the ideal of family life that Spaniards hold so dear.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Socialist Prime Minister, condemned sexist violence as a "national disgrace" in his inaugural speech last month, and promised prompt legislation.

Teachers and pupils at the village school, where Albert collected his young girlfriend after class, were grief-stricken.

"Today, the whole school is weeping," said Rafael Roig Montagut, the headmaster.

The girl was "very open with everyone, happy and friendly", Mr Roig said, "if not exactly brilliant at her studies".

Albert left school two years ago to work in a machine repair shop in a nearby town. "He never liked studying," the headmaster said. But he was "delightful ... a normal youth of his age, not at all aggressive, ever".

Mr Roig said he had heard rumours that their parents did not approve of their relationship.