The nine-member jury in the corruption case against former Popular Party (PP) regional premier of Valencia, Francisco Camps, and his co-defendant, ex-PP secretary general in Valencia, Ricardo Costa, returned a not guilty verdict by five-to-four late on Wednesday after three days of deliberation.
Camps and Costa were accused of receiving gifts from the Gürtel network, a ring of businessmen who bribed Popular Party officials in Valencia, Castilla-La Mancha and Madrid in return for public contracts worth millions of euros. Francisco Correa, the jailed alleged ringleader of Gürtel, gave evidence in the trial against Camps and Costa.
The main piece of evidence in the case were tailored suits that anti-corruption prosecutors claimed had been gifted to Camps. The former regional premier always maintained that he had paid for the suits, despite there being no record of money changing hands.
In delivering its verdict, the jury said it had reached the conclusion that neither Camps nor Costa received gifts in an official capacity because of their posts and that it was not proven that the suits were paid for by members of the Gürtel ring.
The jury foreman said there was "no accreditation that Camps did not pay for the clothes." The testimony of Isabel Jordán - who was heard on tape in the court saying she had seen a 30,000-euro bill for Camps' suits in a Gürtel-related company's accounts - and of José Tomás, the tailor at the center of the case, did not sway all jurors.
However, the Valencia PP has not yet shed Gürtel from its back. The Valencia High Court is still investigating a wide range of crimes, including illegal party financing, bribery and corruption, in which Camps' former deputy, Vicente Rambla, Costa and several other PP members are implicated.
The Gürtel case broke in 2009 when High Court Judge Baltasar Garzón blew the lid on the network and anti-corruption investigators implicated Camps. Garzón is currently being tried in the Supreme Court for the use of wiretaps to monitor conversations between jailed Gürtel suspects and their lawyers.