A Spanish Judge Thursday ordered the reopening of a trial against 40 individuals involved in one of the biggest corruption scandals in the country's history.
The scandal has rocked the administration of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, as among those involved include Luis Barcenas, former treasurer of the ruling Popular Party (PP), and various other members of his party.
The decision was taken by judge Pablo Ruz, and follows a High Court decision to reject the defense of accused as the court saw “a clear indication of a crime.” The judge also imposed court bonds worth a total of US$500 million on 36 of the 40 suspects.
Barcenas faces the highest court bond of US$97 million, while the alleged mastermind of the scheme , businessman Francisco Correa, was ordered by the judge to file a US$66 million bond.
The trial, which is not expected to start for another year, could last for as long as six months.
In Spain, the scandal – is better known as “Gurtel” case after the company that the contracts went to – involves numerous officials and politicians who are alleged to have taken bribes and luxury gifts, in return for public contracts. Those being investigated for influence-trafficking and embezzling public funds include politicians, football clubs and even the king's sister.
This is the latest of a series of scandals for Rajoy and the PP, and comes as Spain gears up for a general election that will be most likely held on Dec. 20.
According to recent surveys, corruption is the second biggest concern for Spanish people after unemployment.