Camps may offer guilty graft plea to stay on as Valencia chief

PP regional premier could avoid standing trial by paying fine

Some Popular Party (PP) leaders are saying that their colleague, Francisco Camps, is now considering accepting guilt and paying the fines in a corruption case that has put the Valencian premier a step away from standing trial.

This option would theoretically spare him appearing in court for being party to bribery, but it would also mean admitting that he has lied for over two years about accepting expensive clothes from a corrupt business ring that sought favorable treatment in the awarding of contracts. Paying the fine would also enable him to remain in power, albeit as an elected official with a criminal record.

But there is an additional hurdle in that there are three other defendants in the case, and one of them, Ricardo Costa - former secretary general of the Valencian PP - does not seem willing to admit to any crimes. If that is the case, then the trial will take place after all, although Camps would not have to attend. This would be one way to guarantee that he will not be in the news in the middle of campaigning for upcoming general elections. So far, PP leader Mariano Rajoy has remained silent on the subject.

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Another option is to step down from the premiership and face the charges, but sources familiar with the situation said Camps is not seriously considering this. After a two-year investigation, a court decided there is enough evidence to try Camps for allegedly accepting suits, ties and shoes worth over 14,000 euros from the Gürtel network, which operated nationwide and bribed numerous PP officials and staged party events on the cheap in exchange for contracts.

Despite the shadow of corruption charges, Camps was re-elected for office last May.

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