A Spanish politician from the conservative Popular Party (PP) resigned from office on Thursday after being arrested for an indoor marijuana-growing operation and electricity theft.
Manuel Palma stepped down as the deputy mayor of El Valle, in the southern Spanish province of Granada, nearly two weeks after he was arrested by the police. In early July, officers discovered 256 marijuana plants inside a house in El Padul, a municipality 15 minutes away from El Valle.
In a statement released by the PP branch in Granada, Palma, who also resigned as councilor for youth and sport in El Valle, maintained that he is innocent of the charges. He said he decided to resign so as to not “hurt the Popular Party name or my colleagues at El Valle council.” EL PAÍS was unable to reach Palma for comment.
The national police issued a press release 10 days ago stating that they had arrested two men in a house with two rooms set up to grow marijuana, but did not publicly identify the detainees. It was not until Wednesday that the Spanish magazine Ideal revealed that one of the men was the deputy mayor of El Valle, home to around 1,200 people.
The mayor of El Valle, Benjamín Ortega, who belongs to a local party called Residents for El Valle, was sworn into office on June 15 thanks to the votes of two councilors from his own party and two from the PP – which together outnumbered the three councilors of the Socialist Party (PSOE).
Ortega has refused to ask for Palma’s resignation, arguing he would wait for more conclusive evidence in the police investigation. It was the Granada branch of the PP which forced Palma to step down as deputy mayor. Ortega told EL PAÍS that the situation in the local council has now “returned to normal.”
In the press release, the Popular Party in Granada “applauded” Palma’s decision to resign and said the party door would be “open” to him, “once the situation has been favorably resolved.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.