PP says investigation into ex-treasurer is “becoming a witch hunt”

Spokesman for ruling party argues probe has malicious intent and that all members feel “disgust” for corruption

The Popular Party (PP) has accused investigators working on the Bárcenas inquiry, which is looking into irregular party donations and payouts to leading PP officials, of conducting a “witch hunt” against the ruling party.

Several PP leaders have been using this expression for weeks now with reference to the case, and party spokesman Carlos Floriano recently resorted to it in an interview. But on Monday Floriano made the accusation official by using it in a speech given at national party headquarters.

Without mentioning the examining judge, Pablo Ruz, nor the prosecutor involved in the case, Floriano complained that “someone might have the feeling” that investigators were acting “with the intention of finding what they were not going to find.”

After saying he hoped that “everything could be resolved as soon as possible,” he added: “But it is true that someone might have the feeling a witch hunt is being conducted against the PP and PP officials. There has been the awarding [of public contracts], then there have been donations... So the PP is being investigated with one premise and one insidious conclusion.

“No other party would so decently put up with the investigation that is being carried out against the PP,” Floriano concluded.

After criticizing the leaks published in certain sectors of the media, he went on to bemoan “the defenselessness of workers under this roof who have to see their names and salaries published in some parts of the media when they have no relation with politics.”

Shared indignation

The PP spokesman also claimed that all party members and leaders shared “the indignation” of Basque PP leader Arantza Quiroga, who earlier on Monday said party members were “disgusted” by the Bárcenas case, involving an alleged slush fund. However, Floriano declined to comment on the recent conclusions of the investigation into the Bárcenas papers, which found that there was sufficient proof that former party treasurer Luis Bárcenas and his predecessor, Álvaro Lapuerta, had kept a parallel accounting system from 1990 to 2008 that was undisclosed to the tax authorities, a crime punishable by between five and six years in prison under article 310 of the Penal Code.

The investigators based their decision on a comparison of the entries in the ledgers kept by Bárcenas published by EL PAÍS on January 31 with the PP’s official accounts, as well as the testimonies given by some of the Spanish businessmen whose names are recorded in the ledgers as donators and on the appearances of high-ranking PP officials who admit to having received payouts.

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