From Buenos Aires, Cristóbal Páez’s voice comes mixed with emotion. He says he will never forget this date. Because he has been acquitted in the trial of the Bárcenas Papers and because her little daughter is eight years old. In a trial, in all trials, the purely formal – the facts that will serve the judges to pass judgment – are mixed with infinite details that draw the human landscape that surrounds the event. Cristóbal Páez is a lawyer who was hired by Luis Bárcenas – at that time the almighty, lonely and distant treasurer of the Popular Party – to put order at the headquarters of Genoa 13 and bring the staff to the waist. He was doing it badly or well until Bárcenas gets nervous because his shenanigans are beginning to appear in the press. During his statement before the court, Páez tells that there is a moment, back in 2013, when the treasurer wants to make him an accomplice in his situation by showing him his secret notes, that he refuses and that he begins to receive threats:
“He called me into his office and got very violent.” He threw a lighter at me that I was able to dodge and said: You’re dead, you’re finished. The truth is that I was afraid.
It can be said that, during the trial, Cristóbal Páez is the only defendant who defends himself without arrogance, trying to make himself believe with even more passion than his lawyer, Gonzalo Martínez Fresneda, considers prudent. The rest, from Bárcenas to Gonzalo Urquijo – the owner of the architecture company that reformed the headquarters and who already had a record of being a tax evader – going through the leaders of the PP called as witnesses, in many cases they do so insolently, convinced that their army of expensive lawyers and paid experts will save them from conviction. It is not like this.
And this is not the case because in reality the State is almost never that dark and terrifying thing that separatists and populists of both stripes describe —with the invaluable help of Commissioner Villarejo—, but something much simpler and more valuable. He is a judge called Pablo Ruz, who investigated without caring about the consequences that this would have for his career in the National Court; It is the police inspector Manuel Morocho, who went beyond what his bosses wanted, it is the State attorneys Rosa María Seoane and Eva Fernández, who during the trial effectively refuted the arguments of the defense lawyers and experts. They are also the tax inspectors who, under the anonymity of their professional numbers, defended euro by euro what they considered that Bárcenas, Urquijo and the PP stole from the State coffers – that is, from everyone’s money – when paying works with illegal funds.
The conviction is important because it makes it clear, for the third time, that Bárcenas’ papers are real and reflect the PP’s accounting b, but also because it shows that, despite the many obstacles and its imperfections, the State of truth, the one that does not defending himself with the flag in one hand and black money in the other, he is capable of defeating the arrogance of the crooks.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.