A former press secretary to former Balearics regional premier Jaume Matas testified on Monday that the Popular Party (PP) politician told him to pay an El Mundo reporter money for stories that never appeared.
Juan Martonell said that Matas instructed him to give Antonio Alemany 12,000 euros so he could write a sports article that was never published. "I never saw it," said Martonell, who is cooperating in the investigation into a series of allegedly fraudulent contracts during Matas' term.
With shouts of "criminal" and "crook" from protesters outside a Palma de Mallorca courthouse, the trial of Matas and Alemany began on Monday. The former PP premier and ex-journalist are facing fraud and embezzlement charges in the first of 26 cases that make up the so-called Palma Arena case.
Alemany was Matas' speechwriter and wrote glowing articles in El Mundo about him in exchange for payola, prosecutors say.
The Palma Arena case led to the offshoot investigation into King Juan Carlos' son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, who has been subpoenaed to appear in court next month to answer charges that he diverted public money from the Balearic government given to his non-profit Nóos Institute. The entire investigation began with allegations into an overpriced sports complex, Palma Arena, which was budgeted at 44 million euros but ended up costing 100 million euros.