Spanish court summons PM Sanchez's wife over corruption allegations

FILE PHOTO: Spain's Sanchez suspends public duties to 'reflect' on future

MADRID (Reuters) -A Madrid court has summoned Begona Gomez, wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, to appear before a judge on July 5 over allegations of corruption and influence peddling that spurred her husband to consider resigning in April.

The request was made as part of a preliminary inquiry into whether she had used her position to influence business dealings, the investigations court said on Tuesday.

Sanchez said late in April he would remain in office, after a five-day hiatus from duty to ponder resigning as the court investigated his wife, a probe he said was baseless and orchestrated by right-wing political opponents.

In a letter shared on X on Tuesday, Sanchez said he found it "strange" the court decided to summon his wife just days before this weekend's European Parliament elections and that the right-wing opposition was using everything in its power to break him.

"I want to tell you that my decision to continue leading the government is firmer than ever," Sanchez added.

Madrid's prosecuting authority appealed to have the case thrown out for lack of evidence, but was overruled by the investigating judge.

The opposition has, on various occasions, demanded the resignation of Sanchez, who leads Spain's minority leftist coalition government.

The case was brought in a private complaint by Manos Limpias, or Clean Hands, an anti-corruption activist group led by Miguel Bernad, a lawyer and politician who has stood as a candidate for a far-right party in European elections.

Manos Limpias alleged that Begona Gomez used her influence as the wife of the prime minister to secure sponsors for a university master's degree course that she ran.

Gomez has not made any public comment since the court opened the investigation in late April.

The case has triggered international repercussions. Last month, Spain withdrew its ambassador to Buenos Aires after Argentina's President Javier Milei called Gomez 'corrupt' during a far-right rally in Madrid.

Argentina has kept its ambassador in Madrid.

(Reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Inti Landauro, Bernadette Baum and Richard Chang)