Protesters call for Murcia regional president to quit over corruption case

OVER 4,000 residents gathered in Murcia in Sunday calling for the region’s president to resign in light of his being investigated for corruption.

Pedro Antonio Sánchez – usually referred to as Pedro A. Sánchez to differentiate him from the former socialist leader and presidential candidate Pedro Sánchez – is one of the accused parties in a case of bribery, paperwork forgery and inflated estimates involved in building the Puerto Lumbreras auditorium when he was mayor of Murcia city.

It is believed that a grant was given to build the concert hall, but not all of it was used and the shortfall cannot be officially accounted for.

Cases such as this particularly incense the public, since they do not only involve misuse of taxpayers’ funds, but have led to spending cuts in vital areas such as education, health and social welfare due to lack of cash in the pot, often combined with an increase in taxes for already hard-pressed residents.

As yet, Pedro A. Sánchez (PP) has not been formally accused as yet, and insists his involvement in the investigation is ‘purely administrative’.

“There are people whose success depends upon this going on as long as possible,” he said, cryptically.
“My concern is that the justice system works as quickly as possible, allowing me to show that the entire grant funds were invested in the works – and it should be fairly easy to do so.”

Due in court today, Pedro A. Sánchez says he is ‘looking forward to being able to clarify the situation’ and that ‘as soon as the truth is out there, the better’.

The PP party at national level were left with no choice but to sign an anti-corruption measures agreement in November, drawn up by the centre-right Ciudadanos, as a condition of the latter giving its vote to allow the PP back into government when it won the general elections, and repeat round, but with a minority.

Part of this deal was that any politician charged with corruption would immediately resign, and Ciudadanos’ leader Albert Rivera has called upon Pedro A. Sánchez to fulfil his party’s side of the bargain and quit.

But in an interview with the national radio station Cadena Cope, Pedro A. Sánchez said: “The reason for resigning should be when there is a formal accusation against the politician in question,” which is not the case as yet.

He maintains that if this were to be the case, he would indeed stand down, but is ‘confident’ it will not come to that.

The crowds who set off from Murcia’s Plaza de la Glorieta de España at noon yesterday, however, are less convinced.

They marched down the Gran Vía as far as the San Esteban Palace, home to the regional government, where the organisers read a manifesto condemning corruption.

Published Think Spain08 March 2017

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