Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Spain PM rejects resignation calls

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has come under pressure to resign (AP)

Spain's prime minister says he has no plans to resign after a newspaper published text messages in which he tells his party's former treasurer under a corruption investigation to "stay calm".

Mariano Rajoy told reporters: "I am going to see out the mandate the Spanish electorate gave me. This is a stable government that is going to fulfill its obligations."

Mr Rajoy, who says neither he nor other party figures received illegal payments, did not deny exchanging text messages with now jailed former Popular Party treasurer Luis Barcenas. He claimed the messages demonstrated that the state "was not bowing to blackmail. This is a serious democracy".

A former senator, Barcenas was a top member of the party's treasury for some 20 years until he resigned in 2009 on being named a suspect in a probe of illegal funding of the party.

The mobile phone text messages, published by El Mundo on Sunday, date from before Barcenas was sent to jail. In them, Mr Rajoy tells the former treasurer to "stay calm" but advises him that the situation is difficult.

"Luis, nothing is easy. But we are doing what we can," one message says. "Cheer up."

Barcenas was jailed last month while awaiting possible trial on tax fraud and money-laundering charges after the National Court found he had held some 47 million euro (£40 million) in secret Swiss bank accounts. Speculation has been rampant since then that he might try to drag the party and the government into the scandal.

Both the Swiss bank account and the slush fund probes have rocked the party and the country. They come while Spaniards are having to cope with harsh austerity measures, increased taxes and tough economic reforms aimed at reducing debt and 27% unemployment.

AP

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