• Spain’s president to take stand over ‘Gürtel’ kickbacks allegedly funneled to PP
• Rajoy to testify over what he knew as party general-secretary during 2003-04
Spain’s central High Court has announced that it will call Spanish President Mariano Rajoy to provide direct testimony in court in the ongoing corruption case over alleged kickbacks in exchange for public works contracts involving high-level former lawmakers and government officials belonging to Rajoy’s conservative Partido Popular (PP) governing party.
Rajoy’s office had sought to have him provide testimony in writing only, but Tuesday the High Court announced he would be placed on the witness stand to testify on what he knew about the alleged corrupt practices while he was secretary-general of the PP from 2003-2004.
Popularly know as the Gürtel case, a cryptic reference to one of the principal suspects, Spanish businessman Francisco Correa, who is charged with funneling kickbacks to politicians and government officials, the trial process was launched in October after nine years of investigation by public prosecutors. A total of 37 defendants, including two former PP party treasurers and the party itself, will be on trial over allegedly accepting money for personal benefit and to illegally finance PP political campaigns and activities.
The amount of money allegedly funneled to PP politicians and government officials is massive, totalling more than 350 million euros. One of the chief defendants, former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas, has alleged to officials at the highest level of the party were fully aware of the kickbacks scheme.