Spanish PM refuses to step down in slush fund scandal

Spanish PM refuses to step down in slush fund scandal

MADRID - Agence France-Presse
Spanish PM refuses to step down in slush fund scandal

A protester wearing a mask depicting Spanish PM Rajoy demonstrates outside Madrid’s High Court, where ex-treasurer Barcenas is testifying. REUTERS photo

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy ruled out today resigning over a corruption scandal rocking his government.

“I will fulfil the mandate the Spanish people gave me,” he told reporters, when questioned over allegations that he received secret payments when he was a minister in the late 1990s. Rajoy faced calls to resign or explain his ties to a slush fund scandal roiling the ruling Popular Party, whose jailed former treasurer appeared in court over the affair. The 58-year-old premier has denied any wrongdoing and refused to comment in past weeks on the growing controversy centered on disgraced ex-treasurer Luis Barcenas.

‘Luis, be strong’

The conservative El Mundo newspaper published friendly text messages on July 14 Rajoy purportedly sent to Barcenas from May 2011 to March 2013, some two months after the scandal erupted. “Luis, I understand, be strong. I will call you tomorrow. Best wishes,” said one of the messages from Rajoy to Barcenas, dated Jan. 18 when El Mundo first published allegations over the slush fund. “It is not good to try to determine what we will say or to comment on things that must be presented to the courts, which we must all respect,” read another message allegedly sent by Rajoy.

Barcenas is at the heart of a probe into a slush fund that allegedly made payments to top party figures including Rajoy. Rajoy has denied that he or other party figures received illegal payments.