_
_
_
_
POLITICAL CORRUPTION

Court panel backs move to expel PP as private prosecution in Gürtel case

Party considered to have got involved in order to defend officials accused of corruption crimes

Fernando J. Pérez

The High Court on Monday backed a decision to remove the Popular Party (PP) as private prosecution in the ongoing criminal investigation into the Gürtel corruption ring.

In a ruling siding with Judge Pablo Ruz, a High Court panel accused the PP of committing procedural fraud for trying to use its condition as a plaintiff to defend two top former officials — ex-treasurer Luis Bárcenas and ex-deputy Jesús Merino — and the wife of one the former from the charges they are facing. Judge Ruz is handling the massive kickbacks-for-contracts inquiry that has ensnared PP officials in Madrid, Valencia and Castilla-La Mancha. They are under investigation for allegedly receiving money in exchange for juicy tenders from a group of well-connected businessmen, led by Francisco Correa.

The PP — which petitioned to appear as part of the prosecution in the investigation in 2009, soon after the case broke — had appealed Ruz's prior decision for removal, calling it "arbitrary" and "premeditated."

But the High Court panel sided with Ruz, who had said that the dozens of motions presented by PP lawyers in 2010 and 2011 only sought to dismiss the charges against Bárcenas, his wife Rosalía Iglesias, and Jesús Merino.

According to the court decision, the approach of the PP in the case "has not been fully consistent with what constitutes such a complaint." The Counsel's conduct "instead corresponds to assistance in the defense of the three defendants," the panel wrote in its ruling.

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
_
_