Spanish PM appears in parliament over corruption scandals

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MADRID (AP) – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy defended his record in government Wednesday as he appeared before lawmakers to answer questions about alleged corruption scandals linked to his ruling Popular Party.

Rajoy said he had already dealt with this subject many times in parliament and saw no reason why he should have to do so again. He accused opposition parties of trying to stage an inquisition.

Rajoy testified in court in July about the main corruption scandal affecting the party, a kickbacks-for-contracts scheme that helped finance the group. It was a first court appearance for a Spanish prime minister in office.

Rajoy, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, has moved from denying the allegations outright to saying he was never aware of any wrongdoing in the party’s finances.

He began his 35-minute appearance with a speech against terrorism and in solidarity with the victims of the attacks in and near Barcelona earlier this month that left 15 people dead.

He praised his government’s work in getting Spain’s economy out of severe recession and called for unity among lawmakers to deal with the threat of secession from the powerful northeastern region of Catalonia.

Addressing the issue of corruption, Rajoy said there was “no impunity in Spain,” and that cases are pursued and tried in court.

Leading opposition Socialist spokeswoman Margarita Robles said Rajoy is a premier “under suspicion,” adding that it has been shown that Rajoy put up with the allegedly illegal financing of his party and, once again, in his appearance Wednesday failed to clear up anything.

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Associated Press writer Ciaran Giles in Madrid contributed to this report.

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