Gürtel is a huge case, code-named after one of its main suspects, construction businessman Francisco Correa. His surname translates to belt in English and to Gürtel in German. The case covers bribery, money laundering and tax evasion, and implicates a wide circle of powerful businessmen and top politicians (90 per cent of the whole party) in the People’s Party who had gained an absolute majority in the national elections of Spain.
The affair was first uncovered by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, whose researchers were awarded prizes for investigative journalism. Initial investigations were conducted in Madrid, Valencia & la Costa del Sol by the notable Spanish National Court Judge Baltasar Garzón, an examining magistrate serving the Juzgado Central de Instrucción No. 5.
Although Manos Limpias was party to the initial process, but as the case focussed on wayward politicians they brought an action against Garzón for investigating Francoist atrocities, which caused delay and confusion for Gürtel as Garzón was suspended for three years pending his eventual acquittal in February 2012, whereupon he was charged and convicted of a completely different crime connected to Gürtel: that of ordering the interception of communications between powerful construction company directors accused of bribing high officials and their lawyers, who were suspected of money laundering. His suspension is pending appeal at the European Court of Human Rights which have previously annulled a similar conviction On 1 June, Prime Minister Rajoy was ousted by a vote of no confidence after the veredict of the court.