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High Court rules that Judge Ruz will take charge of Bárcenas ledgers investigation

Decision settles dispute between magistrates over jurisdiction of cases

Mónica Ceberio Belaza

A High Court panel decided on Wednesday to allow Judge Pablo Ruz to continue his investigation into accounting files from the Popular Party (PP), which were allegedly prepared by former treasurer Luis Bárcenas.

With the decision, the panel has put to rest a public dispute between Ruz and his bench colleague, Javier Gómez Bermúdez, over who should have jurisdiction in the inquiry into the so-called Bárcenas ledgers. Gómez Bermúdez had asked Ruz to recuse himself from the investigation because he was handling a criminal complaint filed by the United Left (IU) coalition against private businessmen who allegedly made generous contributions to the PP that may have violated the law, as the ledgers show.

But Ruz, who is also handling the massive Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts inquiry, said some of the information contained in the balance sheets coincided with accounting information that shows up in documents confiscated from a group of corrupt businessmen who allegedly made payoffs to PP officials in exchange for juicy public contracts.

The High Court panel - comprised of Judges Alfonso Guevara, Clara Bayarri and Ángeles Barreiro, - heard from both bench colleagues regarding their positions in the jurisdiction dispute.

Anticorruption prosecutors, along with lawyers for Bárcenas and his predecessor, Álvaro Lapuerta, who is also under investigation for allegedly preparing some of the ledgers, and IU representatives, were also on hand to offer their positions. Prosecutors had argued that Ruz should handle the entire case.

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