Judges' battle over slush fund ledgers inquiry rages on

New arguments cited in fight between magistrates over investigation into PP's illegal activities

The ongoing fight between two High Court judges over who should lead the investigation into the Popular Party's (PP) alleged illegal financing activities continued on Monday, with one of the magistrates giving new reasons as to why he should be the one to probe information contained in leaked party ledgers.

Judge Javier Gómez Bermúdez answered his colleague, Pablo Ruz, that the so-called "Bárcenas papers" - the balance sheets kept by former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas - fall under his jurisdiction because they contain information that goes beyond the massive Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts inquiry that Ruz is handling.

The records show bonus payments reportedly made to top PP officials, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and donations made by businesses, including large construction firms, over an 18-year-period.

On Friday, Ruz said that the investigation should not be separate from his Gürtel inquiry because there are a lot of companies that show up in the ledgers that he is already investigating, and which may have formed part of the alleged kickback schemes at PP regional and local governments. But his colleague on Monday said that there are more companies and other names in those ledgers that have no connection to the case.

"Gürtel could be part of the alleged illegal financing at the Popular Party, but that is not the crime," Gómez Bermúdez wrote. The two judges have been waging a battle through legal motions for jurisdiction in the case.