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Court cuts sentence of ex-leader of Spanish island

July 23, 2013

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s Supreme Court on Tuesday slashed a jail sentence in a corruption case for the former regional president of the country’s Balearic islands from six years to nine months.

The ruling upheld a lower court’s conviction of Jaume Matas last year for influence peddling, but threw out convictions regarding embezzlement, tax fraud, forgery and the giving of unlawful instructions in a legal case.

Matas was found to have secretly paid nearly 500,000 euros ($658,300) of public funds between 2003 and 2007 to companies owned by a columnist in return for articles praising him. The journalist also unofficially wrote speeches for the regional president.

Matas, who also served as minister in the Popular Party government of Jose Maria Aznar, remains under investigation in cases related to the construction of a sports arena in Palma de Mallorca, the major city and port on Mallorca island and the capital of the autonomous community of the Balearic islands.

In a separate case regarding the Popular Party, Spain’s Parliament said it has set Aug. 1 as the day that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will give a speech to the chamber about a slush-fund scandal allegedly run by former party treasurer Luis Barcenas.

Rajoy is the highest ranking of several top party officials alleged to have received under-the-table payments from Barcenas. The premier has denied his party ever had such a fund.

Opposition parties demanded that Rajoy appear before Parliament to explain the case after it was found that he had been exchanging friendly text messages with Barcenas as recently as a few months ago. Barcenas has since been jailed provisionally as part of investigations into huge secret Swiss bank accounts he held.

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