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Two conservative ex-leaders in Madrid charged in graft case

Reuters Madrid
Updated: 02-09-2019 22:05 IST
Two conservative ex-leaders in Madrid charged in graft case

Image Credit: Pixabay

Two former leaders of Madrid's regional government were charged on Monday with embezzlement and illegal use of funds to pay bills for their conservative People's Party, a court document showed. Esperanza Aguirre and Cristina Cifuentes, who held the post in 2003-2012 and 2015-2018 respectively, were accused of corruption for their role in a case uncovered in 2015, a spokesman for the national criminal court Audiencia Nacional said.

Aguirre, Cifuentes and their lawyers could not be reached for comment. A PP spokesman said the party respected judicial decisions and the presumption of innocence and declined to provide further comment. The charges relate to a scheme under which officials are accused of awarding public contracts in exchange for illegal kickbacks, according to anti-corruption public prosecutors.

The PP - traditionally one of Spain's two main political parties - has suffered electorally in recent years as a number of former high-profile leaders have been charged and convicted in several major corruption scandals. Last year, former prime minister Mariano Rajoy's government collapsed after his party was implicated in a separate corruption case.

The PP finished far behind the Socialist party in an inconclusive parliamentary election in April and has struggled to regain popularity in opinion polls.

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