Spanish judge remands top ruling party graft suspect

31st October 2014, Comments 0 comments

A judge in Spain on Friday ordered a senior ruling party politician to be held without bail pending a bribery investigation that has embarrassed the government.

It is the latest in a string of high-level corruption scandals to hit the conservative Popular Party (PP) and has piled pressure on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy a year ahead of a general election.

Judge Eloy Velasco remanded in custody Francisco Granados, formerly a minister in the PP regional government of Madrid, on charges including influence-peddling and fraud, in a written ruling.

The judge at the National Court in Madrid also ordered Granados's associate, the businessman David Marjaliza, to be detained without bail on similar charges, it said.

He set bail for two others and charged and released a fifth suspect.

The latest court hearings brought to 31 the number of suspects charged in the affair, including several PP mayors and businessmen such as Didier Maurice of Cofely, a subsidiary of French energy giant GDF Suez.

Police arrested dozens of people on Monday over suspected kickbacks for public work contracts worth roughly 250 million euros ($315 million).

Rajoy has apologised publicly for the scandal but insists justice will run its course.

In 2013 he apologised and resisted pressure to resign in a separate scandal over alleged secret payments to PP members.

The government said it approved measures on Friday that will form part of a new anti-corruption law due to be passed next month.

It approved the setting up of a "transparency and good governance council" to oversee enforcement of the new law, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said after a cabinet meeting.

She defended Rajoy's decision to reject a demand by opposition parties that he appear in a special session in parliament to answer questions about the latest corruption scandal.

"Unfortunately corruption affects all political parties, because it is not down to parties, but to individuals," Saenz told a news conference.

"If parties demand that the government come and explain itself, then everyone else would have to explain themselves too.

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© 2014 AFP

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