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CORRUPTION

Court finds Unió guilty of diverting jobless money

Catalan governing partner leader asks for “forgiveness” but declines to resign

The Unió Democrática de Cataluña (UDC) — one of the political partners in the ruling Catalonia CiU bloc — was found guilty on Friday for diverting money from a fund set up to train the unemployed in the region.

The Barcelona regional high court ordered the UDC to pay back 388,483 euros as part of a civil forfeiture after convictions were handed down against four defendants, including the former party secretary Vicenç Gavadà, who a judge said was “the direct receiver of important quantities of cash.”

Gavadà, who served from 1992-99, and his codefendants were found guilty of fraud-related charges, which carry terms of eight to 18 months in prison.

Prosecutors and UDC lawyers had reached a plea deal to keep current party leader Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida from testifying in the case. From Chile, where he is attending a summit, Duran asked for “forgiveness” but insisted that he won’t step down.