Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has been ordered to testify in proceedings relating to corrupt practices by a number of companies, which are suspected of bribing leading officials of Rajoy’s ruling Partido Popular in exchange for contracts as part of the so-called Gurtel scandal.
It is not yet clear on what date exactly Rajoy is to take the stand. The 62-year-old leader is not accused of any wrongdoing himself in the case, but his post as PP leader since 2004 could mean that he might hold valuable information.
The trial arose out of the scandal centred on businessman Francisco Correa who, along with three others, is suspected of fraud and the embezzlement of large sums of public funds between 1999 and 2005.
In total, 37 defendants face justice in the controversial case, in which it is alleged that Correa and his network would receive a commission of between two to three percent on the value of public tenders. Correa is alleged to have shared those profits with the politicians that facilitated the awarding of those contracts.
The case forced Rajoy’s health minister Ana Mato to resign in 2014. She stood accused of benefiting from illegally-obtained funds via her then-husband, the mayor of the city of Pozuelo de Alarcón. Former PP manager and treasurer Luis Barcenas is also implicated in the case.
Since Spain’s transition to democracy following General Franco’s dictatorship, only two former prime ministers have had to testify in court. Spain’s prime minister during the transition to democracy, Adolfo Suarez, and ex-Socialist leader Felipe Gonzalez both testified as witnesses in separate trials in 1998.