FORMER Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy appeared before a parliamentary committee on Monday to deny spying and smear allegations dating back nine years.
Rajoy, Spain’s leader between 2011 and 2018, said he knew nothing about spying on a senior official of the then-ruling Partido Popular(PP), treasurer Luis Barcenas.
The probe into the so-called ‘Operation Kitchen’ affair revolves around whether Barcenas was illegally monitored by senior PP figures, including Rajoy, back in 2012 and 2013.
Barcenas allegedly had damaging information that could embarrass colleagues and the spying was said to be authorised by Rajoy’s interior minister, Jorge Fernandez Diaz.
Barcenas was subsequently jailed for 33 years over corruption and illegal financing of the Partido Popular in what was branded the ‘Guertel affair’.
Former Policia Nacional chief, Jose Manuel Villarejo, was arrested last year and secretly recorded chats with top figures in order to smear them.
In Monday’s 90 minute session with the Congress committee, Mariano Rajoy said: “I don’t know Villarejo. I have never spoken to him.”
One tape between Villarejo and Barcenas suggested they had ‘compromising material’ on Rajoy.
“I really don’t care what Villarejo and Barcenas had to say about me, “ Rajoy said.
He added that both men had legal problems and had to resort to lying.
The questioning of Rajoy from opposition politicians was often hostile.
At one stage, the ex-PM said:- “If you are not going to believe me, then I don’t understand why you summonsed me here.”
He denied putting incriminating papers over PP financing into a shredder after they were given him by Luis Barcenas.
Rajoy was the last witness in the Congress Commission of Inquiry into ‘Operation Kitchen’ before deputies draw up a report.