VALENCIA'S ex-mayoress Rita Barberá has come under fire from her own party as well as the courts over a massive corruption, back-hander and bribery racket recently uncovered in the city and centring on the right-wing PP.
Sra Barberá lost her seat as mayoress through the elections in May last year after 24 years as head of the city council, and has always denied any illegal financing of the party that she was aware of.
One of her colleagues told reporters that Rita lived in rented property and 'had never so much as stolen a packet of breadsticks' from the city council or regional government.
She has been invited to testify 'voluntarily' in court over the scam known as the 'Imelsa case', which involves accepting cash bribes from large firms in exchange for lucrative public works contracts, and inflating estimates in order to split the difference, thus making a profit from taxpayers' funds.
Whilst acting Spanish president Mariano Rajoy (PP) said he felt 'reassured' by Rita's declaration of her innocence in a press conference yesterday (Tuesday), other members of the party considered she had said too little and too late.
And for the first time ever, the PP itself has launched an in-house inquiry into Rita's management and that of around 50 or so councillors and consultants who worked with her from the 1990s until last year.
Deputy secretary for organisation, Fernando Martínez-Maíllo, said he spent the entire night reading through the 1,000-page court notes which detailed bugged telephone calls in which sources close to the PP in Valencia spoke of 'total corruption'.
Rita, however, says she has 'not committed any crime' and does not intend to resign from her post as senator, which she gained after losing her post as city mayoress last year.
As a senator, she benefits from partial diplomatic immunity, meaning any legal case brought against her has to go straight to the Supreme Court.