MADRID, May 22 (Xinhua) -- The former Spanish minister for employment and social security Eduardo Zaplana was arrested by Spanish Civil Guards on Tuesday on charges of bribery and the misuse of public funds, police sources confirmed to Xinhua.
Zaplana, 62, was a member of the right wing People's Party (PP) government of Jose Maria Aznar between 2002 and 2004 and the PP spokesman in the Spanish Congress between 2004 and 2008. Prior to that he had been the Mayor of Benidorm (eastern Spain) between 1991 and 1994 and was the President of the Autonomous Community of Valencia between 1995 and 2002.
Zaplana was arrested at his home in Valencia in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Five others were also detained as part of the operation.
He is accused of bringing money taken as bribes into Spain.
Zaplana stepped down from active politics in 2008 to take up a post at telecommunications company Telefonica.
Reacting to the news of Zaplana's arrest, Telefonica announced an "immediate" cancellation of their relationship with him, while the PP confirmed suspension of his party membership.
The arrest is another blow to the PP, which has spent several years mired in corruption scandals, including other "cash-for-favors" cases in Madrid and Valencia regions. Zaplana is not the first member of Aznar's former government to be arrested.
Aznar's former deputy prime minister and economy minister Rodrigo Rato is currently serving a four-and-half-year sentence for embezzlement, while the outgoing Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last year became the first ever Spanish Prime Minister to appear in court after being called as a witness in the long-running "Gurtel" case which examines a wide ranging cash for favors scandal.
The Madrid branch of the PP has also been beset by corruption issues, with former regional president Ignacio Gonzalez detained on corruption charges, along with the region's former deputy leader Francisco Granados.
Gonzalez's successor in the Madrid region, Cristina Cifuentes was forced to resign from her position at the end of April after it emerged she had been given a Masters Degree without actually doing any of the necessary coursework or sitting any examinations and the discovery of a video in which she was shown to have been caught stealing two jars of face cream.