Spanish Judge Calls Sanchez’s Wife to Testify in Blow for PM

(Bloomberg) -- A judge has summoned Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s wife, Begona Gomez, to testify as the target of a criminal investigation that has rocked the country for weeks.

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Gomez will have the opportunity to respond to questions on July 5 in Madrid as part of a broad inquest into alleged private-sector corruption and influence-peddling, according to an emailed statement from the court.

A press officer for the prime minister’s office declined to comment. The government has said that the allegations against Gomez are unfounded and are part of a broad right-wing attack against the premier.

The investigation has been at the center of Spanish politics since April when Sanchez took five days off from work to think about his future after news broke that his wife was being named a suspect. He finally decided to stay in the job.

The probe was instigated by a complaint filed by an organization with far-right ties called Manos Limpias — or Clean Hands. The group dubs itself as an anti-corruption campaign and specializes in taking left-wing politics, and policies, to court.

The inquiry is focusing on two issues:

  • One is meetings Gomez had with the owners of an airline that was rescued by the government during the pandemic and which was also a sponsor of a African development center she ran at a private university.

  • The other issue is letters she signed endorsing an entrepreneur who was seeking government subsidies at the same time as he funded a masters program she ran at another university.

Sanchez’s unusual decision to take time to think about his future because of what he dubbed as harassment against his wife came a few days before a crucial election in the region of Catalonia, where the premier’s Socialist party ended up notching an important win.

Critics have said that he was playing the victim and that his anger over the probe was part of a political ploy.

Under Spanish law, a judge can open an investigation to decide whether there are grounds for a trial. it’s common for suspects, such as Gomez, to be called to testify.

(Updates with details on probe starting in fourth paragraph)

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