“He had no decision-making power over the funds,”“they did not identify a single irregularity”, “there was no passivity”“he did not know that the aid was intended for the profit of third parties”, “he did not issue any prevaricating or arbitrary resolution”… The defenses of the former presidents of the Andalusian Government
Jose Antonio Grinan (2009-2013) and Manuel Chaves (1990-2009) threw balls in all directions to request their acquittal in the public hearing held yesterday by the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, in charge of reviewing their appeals against the sentence of the political piece of the ERA case.
The Provincial Court of Seville dedicated 1,821 pages in its resolution to justify that both former presidents and 17 other former senior officials of their governments in Andalusia were “fully aware of the obvious and patent illegality” of the procedure through which almost 680 million euros between 2000 and 2009 between companies and workers affected by restructuring processes.
They deny it and argue that they were completely unaware of the ins and outs of the management of the aforementioned system. During the seven hours that the lawyers of the defendants used to summarize their appeals, at a rate of 15 or 20 minutes for each one, repeated refusals were heard aimed at sowing doubt about the sentence that can put Griñán and nine other people in prison. sentenced, in addition to prevarication, for embezzlement.
The majority denied a “criminal agreement” by the leadership of the Board or that they knew they were approving something illegal. The irregularities that occurred –such as the intruders included in the ERE where he had not worked– were endorsed by a deceased, the former General Director of Labor, Francisco Xavier Guerrero, whose criminal responsibility is extinguished with his death. Lawyer Alfonso Martinez del Hoyo used this resource to exculpate his client, former Employment Minister Antonio Fernández. The sentence blamed him for “possible irregularities” and “supposed excesses” not committed by him, “but by the Director of Labor.” Del Hoyo argued that the former Comptroller General of the Board, Manuel Gómez – acquitted by the court – could “have stopped the system” and he did not.
The former intervener also served as a protection screen for Griñán’s lawyer to deny his responsibility. The former president faces six years in prison and 15 years of disqualification for embezzlement and prevarication because as Minister of the Treasury (2004-2009), according to the sentence, he was the recipient of the reports of the General Intervention questioning the aid procedure, but he did not nothing to avoid irregularities.
“There was no passivity”
His lawyer, Jose Maria Calero, assured that “there was no passivity” on his part nor did he look the other way. In his opinion, the controller of the Board “did not warn” or issue an action report that would have paralyzed the payment of aid granted by the Director of Labor through an external regional agency, IFA/IDEA, which prevented control over the final destination of the money. “How can it be that someone who does not activate the alerts acts well and criminally reproaches those who can only act if they receive the alerts?” He asked himself. Calero also insisted that the system was created before Griñán landed on the Board and that there is no proof of “a single irregularity” in his actions.
Chaves’ defense was eminently technical. His lawyer made an effort to dismantle the crime of prevarication for which he can be disqualified for nine years. Thus, he rejected that the decisions that were made in the Governing Council with Chaves as president could be considered administrative, but government acts, therefore not subsumable in the crime of prevarication. In case the court does not share this interpretation, Pablo Jiménez de Parga asked the Chamber not to consider that the decisions that came out of it were arbitrary. In his appeal, he argued that the fact that he met with benefited workers later with aid does not mean that “Knew, or even had to know, the specific procedures for granting these aids”.
Attacks on the Audiencia court were a constant in the defense reports. The lawyer of former Employment Minister José Antonio Viera, sentenced to seven years in prison, defined the sentence as a “colossal continued conjecture.” He tried to exculpate his defendant by assuring that “by training he is a school teacher and could hardly have been aware of acting against the law.” Encarnación Molino, defender of former Minister of Innovation Francisco Vallejo, took her refusal so far that she denied that the “specific procedure” by which they were convicted existed: “It is an invention. Actions of a political nature and of an administrative nature are being mixed. The lawyer of the former Minister of the Treasury Carmen Martínez Aguayo rejected that a crime of embezzlement was charged “in the abstract, regardless of what the embezzled money was.”
Already in the afternoon session, the defense of the former Minister of the Presidency Gaspar Zarrías, sentenced to 9 years of disqualification for prevarication, assured that his client never had powers over the preparation of budgets or the payment of aid. As president of the commission of deputy councilors, Zarrías limited himself, he said, to checking if the documentation that the Governing Council had to study “was in order” and that the budget modifications had favorable reports. “It is unacceptable that the Executive Branch (the Board) conspired for ten years to deceive Parliament,” refuted the defender of the former Minister of Finance Magdalena Álvarez. The session will resume today with the reports from the Prosecutor’s Office and the popular accusation, which is carried out by the PP.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism