Corruption case Ourense mayor bows to resignation pressure

Still insisting that he is innocent of the corruption charges he faces, former Socialist Francisco Rodríguez announced he was stepping down as Ourense’s mayor on Thursday after his City Hall coalition partner, the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG), asked him to step down.

Rodríguez, who was arrested one week ago in the so-called Operation Pokemon kickbacks-for-contracts investigation, told reporters that he will formally resign before the city council on Friday.

The national Socialist Party leadership had suspended Rodríguez from the party following his arrest, but the mayor vowed this week to stay on as long as he had the support of Ourense’s citizens. But after the BNG withdrew its backing, Rodríguez said he could not form a new government to stay in the post.

Rodríguez, who is out on bail of 6,000 euros, was arrested in a sweep along with 12 others last Thursday, on charges that he allegedly accepted bribes and other payoffs from a company in exchange for cleaning contracts at public agencies. The arrests included the Popular Party (PP) mayor of Boqueixón, Adolfo Gacio, who has also since resigned from office.

With further detentions in recent days, there have now been 22 arrests of public officials, government employees and businessmen as part of Operation Pokemon.

Officials from Vedex, the company that is the main target of the inquiry, have allegedly told a judge investigating the case that they gave a Rolex watch to Rodríguez.

Rodríguez, who has been mayor since 2007, was the director of a technology school.

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