Barcenas freed on bail

LUIS BARCENAS, the man at a centre of a massive corruption case embroiling the ruling Partido Popular (PP) party, has been released from jail on €200,000 bail.

The party’s former treasurer has been held in custody for the last 19 months as the case against him has been built. He was finally released after a 10-hour delay following a decision by the High Court. He had previously been denied bail as a judge deemed he may flee the country or tamper with evidence.

Barcenas, who faces a string of criminal charges and prosecution demands he be jailed for 42 years, walked from the Soto del Real prison near Madrid after his family paid the €200,000 set by the High Court.

The former senator was once one of the most powerful politicians in Spain, and as party treasurer had control of millions of Euros of funds.

Speaking to reporters after his release he said: “I have nothing to say to Mariano Rajoy (the Spanish Prime Minister). But I will say one thing. I followed his advice and I am thankful. Luis has truly been strong.”

“The PP has no reason to fear me, but I have assumed my share of the responsibility, and now all of us have to assume accountability,” he said.

An investigation began after Swiss bank accounts containing millions of Euros were discovered.

Charges including bribery, tax fraud and swindling have been leveled against him in the Gurtel case, where large sums are alleged to have been paid for the awarding of contracts. Dozens of PP politicians have been embroiled in the same case.

He is also being investigated for running a parallel accounting system for the PP, with up to €7.5 million being hidden from government regulators. The PP denies such a system existed, although Barcenas himself says it did.

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