• Spanish PM takes stand as witness at graft trial

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    SAN FERNANDO DE HENARES, Spain: Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took the stand on Wednesday as a witness in a major graft trial involving former members of his conservative Popular Party, a first in the country. “I never dealt with party financial matters,” Rajoy told the courthouse on the outskirts of Madrid during the proceedings broadcast live on Spanish television. The trial centers on a vast kickback scheme that allegedly saw companies shower former PP lawmakers and civil servants with bribes in exchange for contracts. It is the first time that a serving prime minister has testified in a criminal case. Two former premiers—Felipe Gonzalez, an ex-Socialist leader, and Adolfo Suarez, prime minister during Spain’s transition to democracy—appeared in court in separate trials but they were no longer in office.Rajoy, 62, had asked to testify by video-conference, saying he was too busy to appear in person, but Spain’s High Court ordered him to come.

    AFP

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