A police investigation into the so-called Caso Gürtel has concluded that there was “irregular financing” of events organised by the Valencian branch of the Partido Popular (PP) political party (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). A police report, which is part of the summary of the Gürtel case and was made public yesterday, said that money came from businesses as compensation for favours carried out by members of the political group. Monetary donations were received from various businesses that were never deposited in the party’s bank accounts, according to the report; it went on to say that these businesses have current contracts for the provision of services and the carrying out of works for the public administration as compensation for this money that was donated to finance PP events. The report also claims that between 1996 and 1999, the PP group in Galicia paid ‘in black (or hot) money’ for more than half of the events that it organised; a system of double invoicing was used during this time, when one of the Gürtel accused, Pablo Crespo, was the secretary of the PP’s Galician organisation.
Lionel Messi scored all four of FC Barcelona’s goals yesterday in the second leg of the team’s match against Arsenal, winning plaudits from around the world for his performance (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Despite the fact that the team was missing key players, including captain Carles Pujol and on-form striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and went behind to a goal from Bendtner in the 18th minute (giving Arsenal a brief aggregate lead), Barça managed to dominate the majority of the game, with Messi scoring three times in the first half. With his four goals, Messi is now the highest scorer in this edition of the Champions League, overtaking Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. While commentators agree that Barça didn’t play with quite the ferocity seen in the first half of last week’s leg in London, the team still put on an effective performance, and Messi scored his hat-trick, his fourth in three months, within just 21 minutes. In the second-half, Arsenal created scoring occasions without success, and Messi finished off the task with his fourth goal in the 88th minute of the game, giving Barça a ticket to a semi-final meeting with Inter Milan and Messi a place in sporting legend.
The Catalan police is fining 10 youngsters €55,000 for graffiti-ing trains and trams (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The minors, aged between 14 and 17, seem to have been involved in a contest to see whose work could be seen by the most people. As a result, since January, they have targeted the engines and carriages of the Trambaix tram system, regional ‘cercanías’ trains and the high-speed AVE train, with fresh graffiti appearing on a near-weekly basis. The police reckon that the damage caused to the various machines is more than €55,000, although they are waiting for a final report on the matter. Sources close to the investigation also said that those responsible are different groups of friends from l’Hospitalet, Barcelona, Castelldefels, Vilanova i la Geltrú and El Prat.
Also in the news: More than half the trees on the Diagonal could die within 15 years (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Zapatero wins support from Catalan party CiU for his anticrisis project (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Generalitat increases R&D spending despite the crisis (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico)