• Spain's news in English

Lawsuit reopens scandal wounds for leaders

AFP/The Local · 20 Oct 2013, 11:37

Published: 20 Oct 2013 11:37 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The Popular Party's number two, Maria Dolores de Cospedal, is suing its disgraced former treasurer Luis Barcenas for accusing her of accepting illegal payments. 

Analysts warn her counter-attack could backfire by reviving the scandal.

The affair has outraged ordinary Spaniards and sparked calls for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to resign just as he tries to steer the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy out of an economic crisis.

Summoned to answer the defamation charges, Barcenas used the opportunity on Friday to repeat claims that he had personally handed undeclared cash payments
of thousands of euros (dollars) to top party leaders.

"I gave payments to Senora de Cospedal with my own hand" in her offices in 2008, he said, in extracts broadcast on national television, testifying by video link from the Madrid jail where he is detained in a separate graft case.

The scandal exploded in January when a newspaper published copies of account ledgers handwritten by Barcenas, purportedly showing payments from a
secret slush fund.

In testimony in July, Barcenas named Rajoy as well as Cospedal, the party's secretary general, among the PP officials who benefited.

Rajoy has denied that he or other party figures received illegal payments and rejected calls to step down over the affair.

A judge has questioned Cospedal as a witness in that case but ruled out summoning Rajoy.

The affair had quietened down over recent weeks until Cospedal's own suit came to court on Friday.

She was angry at being stained by the scandal when she herself had overseen reforms to make the party more transparent, said Fernando Vallespin, a political scientist at Madrid Autonomous University.

"But her suit against Barcenas has just meant that now we are talking about the affair again," and her party colleagues are alarmed that Barcenas got the chance to repeat his charges, Vallespin told AFP on Saturday.

An affair that had calmed down in recent weeks is suddenly back on the front pages."

Leading centre-left newspaper El Pais said party members were "bewildered" by Cospedal's decision to take Barcenas to court which provided a spectacle
that was "devastating for the party's image".

"Cospedal's decision has totally broken the PP's strategy and that of the prime minister, which was not to say a word about the Barcenas case to try and make it go away," the daily wrote.

Testifying in turn on Friday, Cospedal denied Barcenas's claim that she had accepted two payments of 7,500 euros ($10,200) from him in 2008.

Right-leaning newspaper El Mundo said she failed however to clarify whether other party members accepted such payments, which "increases suspicion and
reopens the scandal" in the party.

Barcenas was jailed in June pending an investigation into allegations that he held 47 million euros in secret Swiss bank accounts.

Story continues below…

The High Court is separately investigating the allegations of financing irregularities in the party, which span nearly 20 years.

"This is never going to end until there is a firm sentence" in that case, said Vallespin.

"I don't think many people will be convicted, except for Barcenas. Judicially, the party can survive it," but Rajoy may pay a political price if the court confirms financial irregularities in the party and if the ruling comes near election time, the analyst added.

The next general election is due in 2015 and big Spanish court cases can take years.

"It depends a lot on what can be proved in court," said Vallespin.

"Meanwhile this case has done a lot of damage to the Popular Party."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Recipe: How to make classic Spanish ham croquettes
Photo: thespanishcuisine.com

Learn how to make this all-time Spanish favourite at home.

Halloween weekend: Sunny skies and nightmare traffic
Authorities expect 5.5 million cars to take to the road over the 'puente'. Archive photo: AFP

Spain is set for great weather over the long weekend. But be prepared for nightmare traffic.

Southern Spain will become a desert with global warming
Photo: Steven Stralton / Flickr

Southern Spain will become a desert if global warning continues, scientists have warned.

Eight Spanish films to truely terrify you this Halloween
Photo: Corie Howell / Flickr Creative Commons.

Looking for something to give you goosebumps this Halloween? The Local looks at eight Spanish films that are sure to have you cowering beneath the covers.

Spain's Socialists refuse to go easy on Rajoy once in power
Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists may have reluctantly decided to let Mariano Rajoy govern again but they will not go easy on the acting conservative premier once he re-takes power, they warned on Thursday.

Spain's Podemos sees golden opportunity in Socialist woes
Pablo Iglesias is ready to step up in opposition. Photo: AFP

As Spain's conservatives prepare to re-take power after 10 months of political limbo, anti-austerity party Podemos has set its sights on replacing the divided Socialists as the main opposition force.

Wildlife ranger accused over decapitated bison in Valencia
The headless corpse of Sauro was found last month. Photo: Carlos Alamo / Reserva de Valdeserrillas

The case of the beheaded bison at a wildlife reserve in Valencia just got a whole lot weirder.

Spain jobless drops below 20% for first time in six years
The unemployed queuing up outside a Madrid job centre. Photo: AFP

Spain's unemployment fell below 20 percent for the first time in six years, official figures showed on Thursday.

'Saints not ghouls' insists Spanish church for Halloween
Suggested outfits from the Bishopric of Cadiz and Ceuta. Photo: Shower of Roses

Spanish bishops are urging good Christian children to forgo zombie, ghost and devil outfits and instead dress up as "saints, virgins and apostles".

Tough road ahead, Spain PM warns before return to power
Rajoy will try and form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned on Wednesday of a tough road ahead as he prepares to take power again at the head of a minority government with little support.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
jobs available