PP protects Rita Barberá by appointing her to Senate’s permanent committee in face of hypothetical new elections

Valencia city’s ex-mayor of will continue to have immunity, and can only be investigated by the Supreme Court, in the face of possible implication in Operation Taula

Rita Barberá, the former mayor of Valencia, remains a substitute member of the permanent committee of the Senate that was named today. This means that she will maintain all of her rights and prerogatives --among them, immunity-- even if the Senate is dissolved for the calling of new elections.

In accordance with the rules of the chamber, the titular members and substitutes of the Spanish Senate’s permanent committee will hold their status as senators, with all the rights and prerogatives inherent in the position, even after the expiration of their mandate or dissolution of the Senate, until a new committee is appointed eventually.

In this way, all of the senators who are members of the permanent committee of the chamber maintain their immunity in the event of having to face any legal action, even with the Senate dissolved. This prerogative means that Rita Barberá cannot be charged --or investigated, according to the new law of criminal prosecution-- in Operation Taula, the probe into alleged money laundering committed by PP councilors in Valencia city.

Also constituted this morning was the Appointments Committee, comprising the Senate President, Pío García-Escudero, and the spokespersons of the groups. The former mayor of Valencia and PP Senator Rita Barberá will sit on two Senate committees, since all senators must serve on one, but she will not chair either of them.

Rita Barberá held the presidency of the senate’s Constitutional Committee from when she took her seat in September of last year until the dissolution of the Senate for the calling of elections, at the end of October. In that short span of time, she had to preside over the reform of a law affecting the Constitutional Court, and was able to debut before the full Senate to present precisely this bill. Coincidentally, it was the last matter that was debated in the legislative term and coincided with her first appearance before the high chamber.

On January 13th the former mayor attended the full session for the incorporation of the Senate, and has not been seen again in the chamber since the Taula case exploded, which implicates Valencia’s local PP party —which she used to lead—, but neither has there been any activity in the Senate.

Brussels to analyze the corruption in the Valencia PP

On March 17th, the Intergroup for Transparency and the Fight against Corruption of the European Parliament will analyze the alleged illegal financing of the PP in Valencia uncovered by Operation Taula. The co-president of the Intergroup, Dennis de Jong, has notified Marina Albiol, EU MP for Esquerra Unida, that in the next meeting they will deal with the case and its implications. Albiol welcomed the decision and warned that the EU MPs for the PP "are under suspicion" because, if the accusations are proven, they "played dirty" during the electoral campaign for the European elections of 2014.

"There is a concern in a wide variety of political groups about this exceptional situation in which the PP is cornered by corruption", said Albiol. The EU MP from Valencia, Marina Albiol, assured that the "suspicions that part of the election campaign" of the PP in Valencia for the European elections "was financed illegally" takes away "legitimacy from the PP’s MEPs”. Thus, Albiol celebrated the fact that the Anticorruption Intergroup of the European House has accepted her petition to review the case.

"This case of corruption and the possible actions that could be carried out will be addressed during the next meeting", noted the European Parliament member for Esquerra Unida. According to Albiol, the decision shows that there is "concern" in Europe over the accusations of corruption in the PP, and there is "Europe is keen to take measures”.

"The information published up to now regarding Operation Taula questions the legitimacy of the parliamentary representation obtained by the PP in the European chamber. It was a campaign in which, if these accusations are proven, they played dirty. And we will, therefore, demand accountability in the European Parliament", warned Albiol.

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