9 Jul, 2024 @ 14:18
2 mins read

Wife of Spain’s prime minister threatened with arrest if she fails to attend court when witness in her influence peddling probe gives evidence

Begoña Gomez, wife of the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez seen during the elections to the European Parliament. The President of the Spanish Government Pedro Sanchez and his wife, Begoña Gomez voted in the elections to the European Parliament at the Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Buen Consejo in Madrid. (Photo by David Canales / SOPA Images/Sipa USA) *** Local Caption *** 53811110

A MADRID judge has warned Begoña Gomez, the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, that she could be arrested if she does not turn up in court next week when a witness in a judicial probe against her gives evidence.

Magistrate Juan Carlos Peinado issued the warning in a writ of summons, making clear that she has an ‘obligation to attend the hearing’, which forms part of a preliminary investigation into allegations of influence peddling against Gomez, which then could lead to a full trial. 

The wife of the Socialist Party leader is being compelled to attend, rather than just her lawyer, given that the witness who will be interviewed, Juan Carlos Barrabes, is of advanced age. 

As a result, his preliminary testimony could be used in a potential trial against her as ‘pre-constituted evidence’. 

Read more: Begoña Gomez in court: Judge calls Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s wife to testify as official suspect in influence peddling case

Pedro Sanchez cancels engagements due to death of wife Begoña Gomez's father
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez with his wife Begoña Gomez.

Gomez herself appeared in Peinado’s Madrid court on Friday, where she was due to testify in the case. 

Amid a large police presence, Gomez was allowed to enter via a parking garage on security reasons. 

Dozens of reporters were also on the scene in a bid to catch a glimpse of the 49-year-old.

The hearing was postponed, however, after her defence lawyers told the court that she had not been properly informed of another complaint that has been filed against her by an ultra-Catholic group called Hazte Oir (Make Yourself Heard). 

The first case, meanwhile, came to light in April, when she was accused by trade union Manos Limpias (Clean Hands) of using her position as the prime minister’s wife to influence her business dealings. 

Manos Limpias, which has links to the far right, accused her of securing sponsors for a university master’s course she ran thanks to her position, among other accusations. 

The union’s case, however, was based on eight newspaper reports about her activities, some of which had already been debunked as being false. 

The lawsuit against her has since been joined by the far-right Vox party, as well as Iustitia Europa, which is best known for campaigning against restrictions imposed by the Spanish government during the Covid-19 pandemic, news agency Reuters reports. 

Prosecutors have called for the case to be thrown out, while a report put together by the Guardia Civil – and widely leaked to the press – found no evidence of any wrongdoing by Gomez

Allegations against her of influence peddling relating to European Union funds are going to be investigated separately, in this case by European prosecutors. 

After news of the case hit the headlines, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez took the unprecedented step of pausing his public duties while he considered whether or not to resign. 

While his wife has not publicly commented on the case, Sanchez has repeatedly insisted that she has done nothing wrong

After taking a pause to consider his position, Sanchez opted to stay on, accusing the political opposition and sectors of the press of ‘mud-slinging’, and vowing to crack down on public funding for media outlets that publish unsubstantiated stories. 

On Monday, it emerged that Gomez had filed an appeal against the Madrid court for it to shelve what her legal team called a ‘universal’ investigation into her professional activities. 

Meanwhile, she will have to return to the court on July 19 to continue testifying. 

Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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