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    Spain's PM Rajoy testifies as a witness in the Gurtel corruption trial in San Fernando de Henares. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 July 2017

"I had nothing to do with the economic activities of the party, but I was dedicated to politics," Rajoy told the panel of judges.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy appeared in a national court in Madrid Wednesday as a witness in the trial of Spain’s largest corruption case in modern history.

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The People's Party leader, who is not accused of malpractice, testified on the political group’s activities during his time as deputy secretary general in 2003 and as secretary general in 2004 — the time period when the illegal dealings within the party are alleged to have taken place.

“I had nothing to do with the economic activities of the party, but I was dedicated to politics,” Rajoy told the panel of judges.

Breaking court traditions, Rajoy sat at a table of equal measure to the judges rather than standing in front of them as witnesses traditionally do. The People’s Party president affirmed that he had taken measures to curb corruption, ending contracts with companies allegedly connected to the corruption case.

Rajoy denied any knowledge of illegal funding to the party.

Throughout the trial, Pablos Iglesias of the leftist Podemos party slammed the right-wing president’s “insolent” tone. 

“Spain doesn’t deserve this disgrace,” he tweeted Wednesday. 

“We need to get them out of government.”

Spanish Socialist Worker's Party President Pedro Sanchez demanded that Rajoy resign from his position in government. Iglesias, however, took it a step further, stating that demanding a resignation would not be enough.

“Rajoy does not resign even when he’s in hot water,” he said. 

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“The only way out is to expel the People’s Party from the (Palace of) Moncloa.”

Rajoy is the first active head of the Spanish government called to take the witness stand in court.

Former People’s Party treasurer Luis Barcenas is among the 37 people on trial on charges of organized crime, falsifying accounts, influence-peddling and tax crimes. Barcenas has said in court that his party kept a second accounting ledger, but has denied corruption charges.

Businessman Francisco Correa, who had close ties to the People’s Party, was sentenced to 13 years in prison earlier this year by a court in Valencia for setting up a kickback scheme and rigging public contracts.

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