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A journalist photographs the screen of a press area as Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy testifies as a witness in the Gurtel corruption trial in San Fernando de Henares, outside Madrid, Spain, July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Chema Moya/Pool

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SAN FERNANDO DE HENARES, Spain (Reuters) - Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday denied any knowledge of an illegal financing scheme within his conservative People's Party (PP) and said he not taken any illicit payments, as he testified in court in a long-running corruption case.

Rajoy is the first sitting premier in Spain to be called to court as a witness. The trial centres on graft allegations involving businesses and small city councils, but it has tainted the PP and led to allegations of a slush fund within the party.

Asked in court whether he knew whether there was an illegal financing scheme for election campaigns within the party and cash donations from anonymous donors, a combative Rajoy said: "Never."

"I never heard anything because, as I have stated, I was never in charge of financial matters within the party," Rajoy said.

(Reporting by Inmaculada Sanz, Writing by Sarah White, Editing by Paul Day)

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Reuters