Socialists want judge to probe data wipeout from Bárcenas’ computers

Popular Party may have broken law in deleting hard drives, opposition claims after evidence blank drawn in court

A Socialist official announced on Friday that his party will ask the courts to investigate who deleted the information contained in two computers used by former Popular Party (PP) treasurer Luis Bárcenas, who is involved in a complex corruption case.

“The PP is laughing at people and might be involved in criminal acts,” warned Oscar López, the PSOE’s organization secretary, a day after it emerged that the computers’ hard drives were either missing or reformatted by the time they reached the investigating judge at Madrid’s High Court, Pablo Ruz.

Former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas is a key element in a case involving secret party accounts he kept from 1990, suggesting that the conservatives accepted illegal donations from construction tycoons worth eight million euros, then used part of that money to hand cash bonuses covertly to the entire PP leadership, including current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Judge Ruz had requested the computers that Bárcenas used inside his office at PP headquarters to see whether the contents might confirm some of the treasurer’s claims.

Bárcenas is also being investigated over the Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts scheme, and for 47 million euros he was found to have stashed away in foreign bank accounts, the origin of which remains unclear.

The PP's custody of the computers consisted of deleting all the information they contained”

Elena Valenciano, deputy secretary general for the Socialist Party, accused the PP of keeping the computers in its custody after Bárcenas left in order to “delete all the information” inside them. Conservative leaders have claimed that they simply followed the established protocol, which requires reformatting the hard drive before handing the computer over to a new employee.

In a comment published on Facebook, Valenciano noted that PP secretary general María Dolores de Cospedal once stated that “Bárcenas’ computers are being guarded at Génova [street] headquarters.” This custody consisted of “deleting all the information they contained,” Valenciano said, something which in her view could be tantamount to concealing evidence from the courts, since “the investigation began in March and the hard drive was destroyed in April. I really feel sorry for the situation that the government and PP leaders are creating for many honest officials and members of the PP, who are watching in embarrassment as this pathetic spectacle of lie upon lie unfolds. Until when?”

Manos Limpias, an obscure state worker union founded by former far-right activist Miguel Bernard that is part of the popular accusation in the Bárcenas case, will file a suit against the person who was in charge of keeping the computers under custody.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for Judges for Democracy, Joaquín Bosch, said on Friday that the Data Protection Law is only applicable to personal documents, and in no case can justify the deletion of content from the hard drives at PP headquarters, which the High Court judge had requested as part of the investigation.

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