Spain's ruling PP to stand trial for destroying laptops

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 26, 2016 11:52 AM

By Amanda Cooper

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's party of acting government, the People's Party (PP), will go on trial for destroying two laptops used by a former treasurer who is already being tried for his involvement in an alleged party slush fund, a Madrid court said on Tuesday.

The PP would be treated as an individual and brought to trial with the party's new treasurer Carmen Navarro on charges of perverting the course of justice and destroying the two laptops, the court ruled.

The court is at present trying six PP members including the former party treasurer Luis Barcenas on charges of organized crime, falsifying accounts, influence-peddling and tax crimes.

Barcenas has said the two laptops mentioned in the new court ruling on Tuesday belonged to him when he was party treasurer.

A party spokeswoman declined to comment on the case on Tuesday. The party has denied charges of involvement in corruption in the past.

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's PP has been trying to clean up its image after a spate of corruption scandals, some of which have involved the party's leadership in Madrid.

Spaniards' disgust with graft allegations and corruption cases that have tainted both the PP and its arch-rivals, the Socialist Party, led to the rise of new parties that split the vote in an inconclusive general election in December.

However, despite the shadow of corruption that lost him 2.5 million votes in May's local and regional polls, Rajoy's PP picked up an extra 13 seats in a second general election in June this year.

Having fallen short of the required majority of 176 out of the 350 seats in the Spanish lower house of parliament, Rajoy is in discussions with other parties to reach an agreement to form a government.

PP employees wiped and disposed of hard disks from the laptops after Barcenas was barred from entering the party's central Madrid headquarters in early 2013, the court document said.

The PP would be indicted "for not having created an adequate organizational and management framework to prevent this crime from taking place ... there is no internal security protocol," the court said.

The PP itself and treasurer Navarro will appear along with the party's head of legal services Alberto Duran and Jose Manuel Moreno, a computer engineer, the court said.

(Editing by Sonya Dowsett and Richard Balmforth)