Spanish government decries ‘mudslinging campaign’ as PM’s wife summoned

Government spokesman slams right and far-right parties for going after Begona Gomez.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his wife Maria Begona Gomez
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his wife Begona Gomez leave after meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican [File:Remo Casilli/Reuters]

A Spanish court has summoned the wife of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez as part of a corruption investigation that the government has denounced as a political hit job.

Begona Gomez is to appear in court on July 5 to answer questions about allegations that she used her position to influence business deals, a Madrid-based court said on Tuesday.

Gomez has yet to publicly address the case, but Sanchez has called it a “smear campaign” to damage the leftist coalition government led by his Socialist Workers’ Party.

Spanish government spokeswoman Pilar Alegria told reporters on Tuesday that the probe involving Gomez is based on “lies and disinformation” and the government knows “there is absolutely nothing here.”

“What we have here is a mudslinging campaign by the right and the far right, the Popular Party and Vox,” she said after the weekly cabinet meeting.

The investigation is based on allegations brought by a group called Manos Limpias, or Clean Hands.

The group has pursued legal cases, many of which have been linked to right-wing causes and have targeted leftist politicians. Manos Limpias, which has seen many of its lawsuits against politicians fail, has said its complaint is based on media reports.

After the probe was launched in April, the prime minister took the unprecedented step of saying he would halt his public duties to contemplate whether he would step down from his post.

After five days of silence, Sanchez said during an address that he decided to stay on as prime minister and continue “with even more strength”.

Spanish public prosecutors had sought to dismiss the probe, but a provincial court ruled that the lower court judge could continue the investigation. The judge can now either suspend the corruption probe or recommend the case go to trial.

The announcement of Gomez’s summons was made days before voting begins in elections to choose the next European Parliament. Spanish citizens vote on Sunday.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies