The table that directs and orders the work in the Congress of the commission of inquiry on Operation Kitchen, the alleged use of means and funds reserved from the Ministry of the Interior during the governments of Mariano Rajoy to spy, in 2013, on the ex-treasurer of the PP Luis Bárcenas, has met this Wednesday and has decided to cite as the first appearance to be questioned and himself Bárcenas, key piece of Gürtel case. That appearance will take place on March 11, accompanied by that of two former high-ranking police officers. The commission has prioritized the appearances of high-ranking police officers for the first sessions and has left for the end that of former political officials, both former secretaries of state and ministers as well as the former president himself, Mariano Rajoy, who will be the last although still without closed date.
The Kitchen investigation commission, officially called “commission on the illegal use of personnel, means and resources of the Ministry of the Interior, in order to favor political interests of the PP and to annul incriminating evidence for this party in cases of corruption, during Government mandates of the Popular Party ”, was approved in plenary session last October, but it was not until the end of January that it began to function. After the Catalan electoral campaign, the committee’s table has been summoned to order its next work and resolve the dilemma about how to summon the 30 appearing parties approved at first on a list drawn up by the PSOE and which received the support of United We Can , among other formations. The commission left open the possibility of calling more people during its course, as the sessions go by and if relevant news appears to be clarified.
The list approved this Wednesday concludes that the appearances will begin with one of the key characters of the main scandals that have affected the PP in recent decades, since the Gürtel case. Bárcenas, illegally spied on by the parapolitical plot of Operation Kitchen, will have to go to Congress on March 11. For that date, one of the sessions of the trial begun last week on the so-called Bárcenas papers, on the irregular hiring through a box b of the works for the remodeling of the historic headquarters of the party in number 13 Genova street in Madrid, which Pablo Casado now wants to move to another address. However, and despite the delay suffered by the hearing after one of the defendants fell ill, the former manager of the PP Cristóbal Páez, due to coronavirus, it is expected that by then the ex-treasurer of the PP has already declared, that he may be absent from the rest of the days from the view to the final stretch, scheduled for the end of May.
On the first day of the commission, in addition to Bárcenas, the commissioners Miguel Ángel Bayo Herranz and Felipe Eduardo Lacasa Córdoba, now retired, who were in those years under investigation now, between 2013 and 2016, are responsible for delivering the reserved funds that units of the National Police were received from the Ministry of the Interior. Both have already testified as witnesses for these events in the National Court, and their testimonies revealed lack of control in the use of the reserved funds, part of which was allegedly diverted to finance the Opedración Kitchen.
In the following sessions it is planned to summon, in this order, Commissioner José Antonio Rodríguez González, current director of the Office of Studies and Coordination of the Secretary of State for Security, and Civil Guard Colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos, who was in command of the coordination of the security forces in the operation mounted for the illegal referendum of October 1, 2017 in Catalonia and that he held the same position as Commissioner Rodríguez. From this position the use of the reserved funds that the Interior gave to the police and the Civil Guard, around six million euros a year, was endorsed.
In subsequent sessions, the commission will adhere to the opinions and versions of various police officers, including Chief Inspector Manuel Morocho, head of the Gürtel case investigation and whose work was allegedly torpedoed by the Kitchen plot. He will be followed by Chief Inspectors Bonifacio Díaz Sevillano and José Ángel Fuentes Gago, both designated as members of the call patriotic brigade -the group of policemen who supposedly spied on political rivals of the PP in the stage of Jorge Fernández Dïaz at the head of the Interior- and the commissioner Enrique García Castaño, known as Fat and then head of the Central Operational Support Unit (UCAO), responsible for monitoring antiterrorist operations and who has confessed that he participated in the espionage of Bárcenas by order of his police and political superiors.
More police officers already indicted in the Kitchen case will also be summoned to appear. Thus, Commissioners Eugenio Pino, the highest police chief at the stage in which the events occurred, will have to attend Congress from his position as deputy director of operations; Andrés Gómez Gordo, who for a time was a close collaborator of María Dolores de Cospedal in her time as president of the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha; and Marcelino Martín-Blas, then head of the Internal Affairs Unit and who ended up confronted with others involved.
Commissioners Enrique Barón Castaño (in those years head of the fight against terrorism), Juan Antonio González García (general commissioner of the Judicial Police when the Gürtel case was investigated), José Luis Olivera (first head of the UDEF and who In the PP stage he rose to head of the Intelligence Center against Terrorism and Organized Crime-CITCO, in addition to being very close to Villarejo), Eugenio Pereiro (current head of the Police’s anti-terrorist fight) and Mariano Hervás (who served as the number two of the UCAO when Operation Kitchen was developed). Some have already testified as witnesses in the case. After them will appear the lawyer Javier Iglesias, who took in his first statements the defense of the former treasurer of the PP Álvaro Lapuerta, now deceased, and who is currently defending Villarejo’s wife; and the priest Silverio Nieto, very close to the former minister Jorge Fernández Díaz and who knew of the existence of the mobile messages that incriminated him in the plot.
When these first sessions are over, the commission will call Rosalía Iglesias, Bárcenas’ wife and in prison for the Gürtel case; the one who was his driver for months and who was later discovered to provide information to the plot, the now police officer Sergio Javier Ríos Esgueva; the lawyer Jorge Sanchís Bordetas, former director of the cabinet of Francisco Martínez, former Secretary of State for Security; the last former Secretary of State for Security with the PP, José Antonio Nieto Ballesteros; Retired Commissioner José Manuel Villarejo Pérez, in prison since November 2017 for allegedly heading the police mafia dismantled in Operation Tandem; the former director general of the National Police of that Government, Ignacio Cosidó and Francisco Martínez himself, accused and who maintained a judicial confrontation with his former boss, former minister Fernández Díaz, one of the collaborators and closest friends of former president Rajoy.
For the last sessions, and as scheduled now, the commission has reserved the appearances of the businessman Ignacio López del Hierro, husband of Dolores de Cospedal, and of the former secretary general of the PP, with whom Commissioner Villarejo held several conversations that are recorded. Last September, the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office presented a letter in which it requested that both be summoned to testify as defendants in the as caso Kitchen, but until now the judge of the National Court Manuel García-Castellón has ignored the request. Finally, former Minister Fernández Díaz and former President Rajoy must appear. No date has yet been specified for those appearances. The commission set itself, in principle, a working period of three months.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.