The controversial ex-mayor of Valencia, Rita Barberá (pictured on Monday), died of a heart attack on Wednesday morning, after testifying before the Supreme Court at the start of the week over claims of money laundering by the ruling Partido Popular during her 24-year tenure as mayor. Paramedics tried to resuscitate the 68-year-old for half an hour after receiving an emergency call from a Madrid hotel at around 7.00 am.

The Supreme Court began investigating Barberá in September. Many of her team have been accused of corruption, but Barberá denied any involvement in a suspected illegal financing network.

A lower court judge initially requested an investigation in April, but Ms Barberá’s status as a senator, granting her immunity from the lower courts, meant she could only be investigated by the Supreme Court. The investigation relates to Operation Taula, which saw 24 people arrested in January and is focused on the activities of local officials in Valencia, Alicante and Castellón.

All those held have links to the PP, the dominant political force in the region until elections brought changes in May 2015.

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