A Madrid court has dropped the case against Jesús Merino, a former Popular Party (PP) congressman accused of taking money from a corrupt ring as part of an extensive bribes-for-contracts scheme affecting many members of the conservative party.
A police investigation concluded that the initials JM on an internal document seized from the Gürtel network referred to Jesús Merino, who was believed to have accepted seven cash handovers between February 2002 and May 2003 totaling 246,210 euros. He was also charged with withholding taxes on that amount.
But the Madrid Superior Court of Justice ruled that the initials are not enough to prove Merino's guilt, and that any tax fraud would have been prescribed by now.
The decision comes on the back of another acquittal, that of former PP treasurer and senator Luis Bárcenas, who was cleared of similar charges earlier this week. Regional High Court Judge Antonio Pedreira concluded that Bárcenas had actually tried to dissuade the PP from continuing to do business with alleged Gürtel ringleader Francisco Correa.