Spanish premier's seat of power is 'stolen' by hunger protesters

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The Independent Online

A group of young protesters in Spain have shown that the best way to be heard is to go straight to the seat of power and steal it. A video showing four hooded young people breaking into the Spanish parliament and apparently stealing the chair of the Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, was posted on the internet at the weekend, prompting a full-scale investigation in Madrid.

A previously unknown group calling itself the 4Cats posted the clip showing their exploits on the internet blog Levantate (Get Up), and claimed to be staging a protest against world hunger.

But questions have been raised over whether all the footage is actually shot inside the parliament. According to a statement released by government officials, the video had been composed from a number of shots, some from within the parliament and others from nearby buildings, making it look as if the Prime Minister's chair had been stolen.

Officials said that Mr Zapatero's chair had indeed been moved, but only by a few metres. "The video is a dextrous juxtaposition of actual images of the interior and exterior of the parliament with images that were filmed in other buildings," a statement said.

The official line seems to be backed up by the fact that at least two chairs were used in making the video, one with arms attached and one without.

Whether the Prime Minister's chair was actually removed from the building or not, the footage is still deeply embarrassing for government officials charged with securing the parliament, as the protesters were clearly able to enter unobstructed into the building's main chamber.

Officials have been studying hours of CCTV footage in an attempt to work out exactly which parts of the video were shot inside the parliament and which were not.

Yesterday it emerged that a government official had been disciplined after confessing to letting the pranksters into the building, and that the case had been passed on to state prosecutors. According to local radio, the man is related to the pranksters.

Little is known about the group 4Cats, whose logo looks more like a Pokemon cartoon character than a protest symbol, but the group clearly takes inspiration from the current spate of political "urban guerrilla" art, including that of the British artist Banksy, whose work has a link on the group's web page.