MARIANO Rajoy has become the first sitting Spanish prime minister to give evidence in court.

The PP leader denied all knowledge about an allegedly corrupt financing scheme within his party.

IN THE DOCK: Rajoy gives evidence in court

Thirty-seven people, including three former PP treasurers, are standing trial over the allegations in the Gurtel case.

It is alleged that prior to the 2008 property boom construction firms paid politicians bribes in return for contracts.

“I never heard anything because, as I have said, I was never in charge of financial matters within the party,” said Rajoy.

One of the accused is Luis Barcenas, a former colleague and friend of Rajoy, who has claimed the top echelons of the PP knew about the scheme.

Rajoy had texted Barcenas following his arrest to say ‘we are doing what we can’,

“I’m in the habit of replying to messages and he had my number. I could have used that phrase or any other one; it doesn’t mean anything,” said Rajoy.

“‘We’re doing what we can’ means precisely that we’re doing what we can; it means we didn’t do anything that might have prejudiced any trial.”

The case has centred on Francisco Correa, a businessman is accused of bribing PP officials between 1999 and 2006.

Rajoy denied associating with Correa, who was known as Don Vito after the Godfather gangster.

“The truth is I didn’t know [Correa],” he said. “But I’m absolutely sure that I saw him at a public event once.

“I had absolutely no dealings with him.”

PSOE leader Sanchez described Rajoy’s court appearance as a ‘black day for our democracy.’

A group of anti-PP protestors stood outside the court in San Fernando de Henares.


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