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Political slush fund scandal rocks Spain

Thursday, Jul 11, 2013 - 02:11

July 11 - Editor of Spain's El Mundo newspaper appears in court as a witness, after his newspaper handed over to the High Court documents which it says are the originals of a ledger showing illicit payments made to top politicians including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy from a slush fund operated by Spain's ruling People's Party. As Joanna Partridge reports, Spain was rocked by the first publication of photocopied extracts of the same ledger back in January, and protests about political corruption continue, as Spaniards are still suffering from a long-running recession and austerity.

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Pedro Ramirez, editor of Spain's El Mundo newspaper, leaves court. He'd been answering questions as part of a corruption investigation that's rocked Spain for the past six months. El Mundo has given the court what it says is a handwritten ledger of payments from an illicit slush fund, operated by the ruling People's Party. Top politicians including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy were among those who allegedly benefitted. SOUNDBITE: Pedro J. Ramirez, Editor of El Mundo, saying (Spanish): "The payments to politicians are supported by documents that have been published many times. I don't know whether they are genuine or not but I have to say that they're plausible." Photocopies of the documents were first published in El Pais newspaper back in January. Rajoy and the party have always denied receiving any payments. SOUNDBITE: SPANISH PRIME MINISTER MARIANO RAJOY, SAYING (Spanish): "Never, I repeat, never have I received or distributed under-the-table money in this party or anywhere else. Never. I will say it again: It is false. All that's been said or anything else that can be suggested, is false." Preparations are underway in the corruption trial of Luis Barcenas - the People's Party's former Treasurer. He allegedly ran the slush fund, taking donations from construction bosses and distributing them to party leaders in cash. He's also charged with money laundering, bribery and tax fraud. Barcenas told El Mundo the hand-writing in the ledger was his - something he'd previously denied. And he's promised to reveal many more damaging documents. UPSOUND Protesters have a clear message for the politicians. SOUNDBITE: Juan, Nurse, saying (Spanish): "All the governing politicians have to explain things to the country and behave according to the circumstances. The country can't take any more. We have over six million out of work, we've got massive brain drain, we have masses of qualified people at university who want to emigrate and we can't take it any more." Spaniards are suffering from a drawn-out recession and painful spending cuts. And there's a lot of anger over the allegations - setting the scene for fireworks when the trial gets eventually gets underway.

Political slush fund scandal rocks Spain

Thursday, Jul 11, 2013 - 02:11

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