Congress rebukes Minister, prosecutors over ‘Lezo’ case

Justice Minister Rafael Catalá during Tuesday's congressional debate on no-confidence motion. Photo: EFE via El Mundo
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• No confidence vote over alleged obstruction of investigations into PP corruption
• Censure marks another corruption-related blow to Partido Popular government

In the first time since Spain’s return to democracy, a sitting cabinet level minister has been hit with a vote of no confidence after all opposition parties united on Tuesday to rebuke Partido Popular (PP) Justice Minister Rafael Catalá and two subordinates for allegedly obstructing an investigation by prosecutors into a high-level corruption scandal involving officials of Catala’s own PP party.

A cross-party vote by 207 opposition deputies against 134 “No” votes by Partido Popular deputies in Congress approved the motion condemning the Justice Minister, along with Attorney General José Manuel Maza and Chief Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Manuel Moix for having obstructed the work of investigators in the so-called “Lezo” political corruption case.

The high-profile Lezo case involves illegal kickbacks to the PP in the autonomous community of Madrid from the Canal Isabel II construction company, for which former Madrid regional president Ignacio Gonzalez is currently serving time in prison. Tuesday’s resolution also condemned Catalá for alleged interference in a corruption case in Murcia involving PP politician and former regional president Pedro Antonio Sánchez, who was ultimately forced to resign over the scandal.

The vote marks the second time a minister of current President Mariano Rajoy of the conservative governing PP has been sanctioned with a vote of no-confidence. In October, then-interim Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz was singled out in a majority vote by opposition parties “for his antidemocratic actions and attitudes and lack of political ethics”. Fernández Díaz, at the time of his rebuke serving as a member of the acting interim cabinet between Rajoy’s two terms in office, was condemned specifically in relation to leaks about a campaign he allegedly directed while Interior Minister to discredit pro-independence politicians in Catalonia.

► Read More in Spanish at El Mundo, El País and Público …

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