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The Spanish leader will announce on Monday whether he is stepping down amid investigations into his wife

The Spanish leader will announce on Monday whether he is stepping down amid investigations into his wife

The President of the Spanish Government, the Socialist Pedro Sanchezmade a surprise announcement this Wednesday that he was considering resigning and will announce his decision on Monday, following a judicial investigation against his wife for alleged “ corruption“.

“I have to stop and think about whether I should continue as head of government or give up this high honor,” the president said in a letter to citizens published on the social network X.

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Sánchez, in power since 2018, announced that he would appear before the media “next Monday, April 29 (…)” to announce his decision, and canceled his public agenda until then.

The preliminary investigation against his wife Begoña Gómez on suspicion of influence peddling and corruption was opened on April 16 following a complaint by Manos Cleans with a group close to the extreme right, the Supreme Court of Mexico announced this Wednesday in Madrid.

The court stated that the proceedings were “secret”.

Sánchez, 52, re-elected by Congress in November, defended his wife’s innocence and said the complaint was part of a “strategy of harassment and destruction” against him by “media with a strong right-wing and ultra-right orientation.”

“I’m not naive. I am aware that they are not denouncing Begoña because she has done something illegal (…) but because she is my wife,” Sánchez wrote.

“Begoña will defend her honor and cooperate with the judiciary in whatever is necessary to clarify facts that appear as scandalous as they are non-existent,” he added.

AIR EUROPA RESCUE

The court’s decision came to light after digital media El Confidencial revealed on Wednesday that investigators were looking into Gómez’s ties to private companies that eventually received funds and public contracts from the government.

El Confidencial reiterates that the investigation is linked to Gómez’s alleged ties to the Spanish tourism group Globalia, the owner of the airline Air Europa, which was in talks with the government to rescue the company, which has been hit hard by the drop in air traffic since the coronavirus Pandemic.

At the time, Gómez headed the IE Africa Center, a foundation affiliated with the business school Instituto de Empresa (IE), a position he left in 2022.

El Confidencial confirms that the IE Africa Center signed a sponsorship agreement with Globalia in 2020 and that the head of government’s wife “met privately with the tourism holding company’s CEO, Javier Hidalgo, at the company’s offices.”

In November 2020, the Sánchez government offered Air Europa an aid line of 475 million euros ($507 million at current exchange rates) from a 10,000 million euro fund intended to support strategic companies experiencing difficulties due to the pandemic.

The Spanish company was the first of many others to benefit from this fund.

Ester Muñoz, a member of the leadership of the People’s Party (PP, right), the largest opposition party, considered it “urgent” for the government president to make “statements.”

For his part, the spokesman for the PP, Borja Sémper, explained that “everything is very serious and in the end everything will come to light”.

“TRUMPIST PRACTICE”

Several deputies from Sánchez’s camp criticized the right for manipulating the judiciary for political purposes.

The leader of the Socialist Group in the House of Representatives, Patxi López, denounced “a strategy in which accusations are made without data, without truthful information, without evidence, just to cause harm, just to cause dirt.”

“They are using a false complaint from a right-wing extremist organization to defame and insult the presidency of the government,” said the government’s number two, María Jesús Montero.

“We will not allow these Trumpist practices to undermine democracy.” Spain“he added.

Clean Hands, founded in 1995, has been behind several lawsuits in recent years and has acted as a civil party in many corruption cases.

It is considered to be close to the extreme right, partly due to the personality of its founder Miguel Bernad, former chairman of the Front National party, which was dissolved in 1993.

Bernad was sentenced to four years in prison in July 2021 for involvement in an extortion ring, but was ultimately acquitted on appeal last month due to a lack of evidence.

SPRING: AFP

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