Senior Spanish opposition member to face trial

15th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The head of the autonomous government in the eastern Spanish region of Valencia, a close ally of conservative opposition leader Mariano Rajoy, is to face trial in corruption scandal, a judge ruled Friday.

The judge at the High Court in Valencia ruled that Francisco Camps face trial over alleged bribes, in the form of clothing worth thousands of euros, received from businessman in exchange for contracts.

There other former members of Camps' administration are also charged in the case, including his former deputy, Ricardo Costa, the court ruling said.

Rajoy, head of Spain's conservative opposition Popular Party, two years ago ordered Costa's dismissal over the affair.

In August 2009, a court in Valencia had dropped an investigation into Camps, a senior PP member.

But in May last year, Spain's Supreme Court ordered the reopening of the probe following an appeal by prosecutors and the local branch of the Socialist Party.

Friday's decision is a blow to Rajoy, who has a strong lead in opinion polls over the Socialist Party of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero ahead of general elections scheduled before March 2012.

Rajoy has consistently backed Camps, who was re-elected in regional polls in May and has denied any wrongdoing, throughout scandal.

Around 70 people, including several PP members in Valencia and Madrid, are under investigation in connection with the scandal, known as the Gurtel case, which led to the resignation of the PP's former treasurer, Luis Barcenas.

© 2011 AFP

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