Under Spanish law, the prime minister is obliged to give a witness statement when called on to do so by judges. The court will now have to decide whether Rajoy must take the stand in person, or whether he is allowed to submit his answers in writing. The latter option is legally possible for members of the royal family and top government officials, but only when the questions deal with facts that witnesses should have knowledge about as a direct result of the position they hold.
Rajoy should have been aware of the illegal activities in which the party treasurer was involved, argue the prosecution
The request for Rajoy to appear as part of the case was filed by the private prosecution in the case, represented by the Association of Democratic Lawyers for Europe (ADADE). In opposition to the request, the Spanish public prosecutor had argued that Rajoy’s testimony would be “redundant,” given that the existence of a slush fund within the PP, which was created thanks to kickbacks from the so-called Gürtel network of businesses, has already been established.
According to prosecutor Concepción Nicolás, testimony from the prime minister “would not be relevant.”
Meanwhile, the solicitor general had expressed similar opposition. “No new elements have come to light during the trial that would point to the need for a statement,” said Edmundo Bal.
The basis for the request is the fact that Rajoy was general secretary of the PP while Luis Bárcenas was the treasurer. Bárcenas is the man accused of having overseen the slush fund, and has fallen foul of the law after he was discovered to have squirreled away millions of euros in tax havens. Given his position at the time, the prosecution argues, Rajoy should have been aware of the illegal activities in which Bárcenas was allegedly involved.
ADADE has also argued that the public has the right to “hear the highest-ranking officials” involved in the case, and claims that the lawyer that is representing the PP during the trial is trying to divert the responsibility for the use of the funds for illegal spending on election campaigns on the beneficiaries at the time: two mayors of Madrid satellite towns Majadahonda and Pozuelo. The strategy of the lawyer, ADADE argues, is to “save the boss, Rajoy,” by trying to assign responsibility on “lower levels.”
English version by Simon Hunter.