PP Gürtel trial defendants fail to oust juror on bias claims

Beatriz Fababuj stood in May elections on Socialist Party slate, but says she has no political ax to grind

A Socialist Party candidate in the May 22 local elections could sit on the jury in the case against Francisco Camps, the former Popular Party (PP) Valencia regional premier, and Ricardo Costa, the former secretary general of the PP in the region. Both men are accused of bribery in accepting tailored suits from the Gürtel ring, a wide-ranging kickbacks-for-contracts corruption network linked to the PP.

Beatriz Fababuj presented herself as a candidate for the municipality of Alpuente in the north of Valencia province, on the Socialist slate as substitute number two. Costa's defense team brought the matter to the court's attention on November 30, when exercising its right under the Jury Law to reject potential members.

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Costa presented a print-out of the electoral lists as evidence that Fababuj could have direct or indirect interest in the case. The matter is even more delicate for the defendants as four Socialist Party members of the Valencia regional parliament are among the public plaintiffs in the case.

The magistrate presiding over the case in the Valencia regional High Court, who also oversees jury selection, threw out the defendants' objections in a statement made known on Monday, arguing they had made their petition outside of the allotted time frame. Camps and Costa were given a period between November 21 and 29 to lodge rejection demands against jurors, but despite the printed sheet of the electoral list bearing a date stamp of October 26 the two did not bring to the judge's attention the political affiliations of Fababuj. Camps said he had not previously complained because Fababuj's place on the Socialist lists only came to his attention during the jury selection hearing.

For her part, the potential juror has said she has no interest in the outcome of the case and that she had intended to stand in the elections as an independent candidate.

Former Valencia regional premier Francisco Camps.
Former Valencia regional premier Francisco Camps.
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