May 3, 2008 / 2:57 PM / 9 years ago

Former Spanish leader interrupted by coup dies

<p>File photo shows former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar (2ndL) talking to his predecessors Felipe Gonzalez (R), Adolfo Suarez and Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo (L) at the official residence of the prime minister, on June 13 1997. Former Spanish Prime Minister Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo, whose appointment ceremony in 1981 was interrupted by a coup attempt, died on Saturday at the age of 82, his son said. REUTERS/Sergio Perez</p>

MADRID (Reuters) - Former Spanish Prime Minister Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo, whose appointment ceremony in 1981 was interrupted by a coup attempt, died on Saturday at the age of 82, his son said.

Calvo Sotelo had to drop to the floor of parliament along with other deputies on February 23 1981, when a Guardia Civil lieutenant colonel brandished a pistol in the air, ending a session supposed to appoint the new prime minister.

The coup quickly collapsed after a television broadcast from the king, and Calvo Sotelo was eventually named prime minister as planned, governing until his centrist UCD was defeated in elections by the Socialist Party in late 1982.

Regarded as one of the prominent figures in Spain’s transition to a modern democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, Calvo Sotelo is remembered for taking Spain into NATO.

A member of a prominent conservative family, he had eight children and lived in Madrid. He died of a heart attack, his son, also called Leopoldo, said.

Reporting by Inmaculada Sanz; writing by Jason Webb

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