Spain prosecutor seeks dismissal of corruption case against Sanchez’s wife

The anticorruption group behind the complaint against Begona Gomez over alleged influence peddling and business corruption says it cannot vouch for the veracity of the media reports the case is based on.

Begona Gomez and Spain's PM Sanchez
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his wife, Begona Gomez, in Vilnius, Lithuania [File: Yves Herman/Reuters]

Prosecutors in Spain have requested the dismissal of a corruption case against Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s wife that prompted him to announce he is considering resigning.

Madrid’s prosecuting authority said on Thursday that it was appealing Wednesday’s decision by a Madrid court to look into a private complaint laid by anticorruption activists against Begona Gomez over alleged influence peddling and business corruption.

The appeal will be heard by a separate court and could take months, and the judge’s investigation into Gomez is sealed in the meantime.

The Spanish anticorruption group behind the complaint, Manos Limpias (Clean Hands), said earlier it had based its suit on media reports and could not vouch for their veracity.

The group’s head, Miguel Bernad, said in a statement on Facebook that the group had merely compiled and passed the reports to a judge out of “civic duty” and denied that the action was politically motivated.

‘Unprecedented slander’

Sanchez, who last year secured another term for his Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) as leader of a minority coalition government, issued a stunning letter to citizens on Wednesday, saying he was taking a five-day break from public duties and would announce his decision to stay or quit on Monday.

He blamed the move on what he called “unprecedented slander and harassment from the right and far right”.

In his letter, Sanchez forcefully denied the allegations against his wife. Gomez has not addressed them publicly.

Begona Gomez
Gomez and Sanchez cast their ballots in Madrid [File: Javier Soriano/AFP]

Bernad, who in the 1980s ran in two European elections as a candidate for the far-right National Front, said in his statement on Thursday that the suit was not political but “solely based on journalistic reports”.

Manos Limpias had decided to ask the court to launch a probe into Gomez’s business dealings after prosecutors had failed to act on their own initiative and the investigating judge will decide whether the media reports are true, Bernad said.

The judge handling the case, Juan Carlos Peinado, said on Wednesday that he would open a preliminary case to investigate whether Gomez had engaged in influence peddling and corruption in her private business dealings.

‘Toxic’ climate

High-ranking PSOE officials closed ranks around Sanchez, describing the political climate as “toxic” and the complaint by Manos Limpias as fake.

Deputy Prime Minister and Budget Minister Maria Jesus Montero said she hoped he would announce next week that he would remain in his post “because we need him”.

Is Sanchez resigns, a new prime minister candidate could stand for a vote in the lower house of parliament or snap elections could be held in the summer.

Sanchez could also submit himself to a confidence vote to reinforce his leadership.

Source: News Agencies