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The Prosecutor’s Office prepares the appeal to clarify the involvement of the PP in the ‘Kitchen case’ | Spain

The ex-treasurer of the PP Luis Bárcenas, on July 16.
The ex-treasurer of the PP Luis Bárcenas, on July 16.Chema Moya / EFE

The Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, which has been investigating since March 2017 an alleged police mafia led by Commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, opposes the order issued on Thursday by Judge Manuel García-Castellón with which it ends the investigations into the caso Kitchen, an operation concocted without judicial authorization to spy on the former treasurer of the PP, Luis Bárcenas, and allegedly steal compromising documentation for the Government of Mariano Rajoy. According to legal sources, the Public Ministry prepares the appeal against that resolution.

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After three years of investigation in the National Court and when the accusations still believe that there are many strings to be drawn, García-Castellón signed a car last week in which he terminates the instruction, rejects the taking of new tests, files the cause against the ex-secretary general of the PP, María Dolores de Cospedal, and exonerates the conservative formation of the illegal espionage to Bárcenas. A decision that he adopted against the criteria of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, popular accusations and various defenses, who had asked to extend the investigations.

In this way, the magistrate circumscribes Kitchen’s responsibility to the Ministry of the Interior and proposes to send Jorge to the bench for six crimes (discovery and disclosure of secrets, prevarication, omission of the duty to prosecute crimes, bribery, influence peddling and embezzlement) Fernández Díaz, who was responsible for said portfolio; to Francisco Martínez, his number two and former Secretary of State for Security; six commissioners who participated in the events; and three other people: two chief inspectors and Bárcenas’ former driver, Sergio Ríos.

But Anticorruption does not think to throw in the towel in front of García-Castellón’s car, issued just a few days after the Prosecutor’s Office presented a letter in which he asked to extend the instruction for a further six months for “the complete clarification of the facts.” Both the public prosecutor’s office and the Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit (UDEF) have also placed the target within the PP, the main beneficiary of the plot.

Objective, “protect” the PP

In that letter from the Prosecutor’s Office, to which EL PAÍS had access, Anti-Corruption describes Kitchen as an operation aimed at “protecting leaders of the Popular Party”, removing the Gürtel case a series of documents “held by Bárcenas and his wife Rosalía Iglesias”, the content of which could “criminally involve” popular leaders.

The Prosecutor’s Office points to the existence of indications of criminal responsibility of María Dolores de Cospedal, and also recalls that the investigation has collected other evidence that shows that the popular leader “would have had knowledge of the start-up and development of Operation Kitchen.” Despite this, the investigating judge Manuel García Castellón insisted in his filing order that the meetings of the former leader with the commissioner José Manuel Villarejo do not constitute any indication of a crime: “The right to assembly cannot be criminalized.”

The Prosecutor’s Office also asked the judge to impute Ignacio Cosido, director general of the Police when the events occurred and spokesman for the PP in the Senate during the first year of Pablo Casado’s mandate at the head of the party. The Anticorruption objective was to investigate “the possible involvement of political and government officials in the conception, implementation, development and control of this illicit police operation.”

Phone contacts

A report from the Internal Affairs Unit of the National Police, dated June 23 and to which EL PAÍS has now had access, analyzes the profuse telephone contacts that Commissioner José Manuel Villarejo had during the first months of Operation Kitchen with Dolores de Cospedal and her surroundings – including her husband, businessman Ignacio López del Hierro; his chief of staff, José Luis Ortiz; your secretary; and one of his advisers, Commissioner Andrés Gómez Gordo. Between May and November 2013, the agents have found more than 70 communications between Villarejo and the environment of the one who was then secretary general of the PP: 23 occasions in which messages are exchanged, 29 missed calls and 25 conversations

Villarejo actively participated in the illegal espionage operation on Luis Bárcenas, former treasurer of the party, by capturing the main confidant, to whom he recorded numerous conversations where he informed him of the progress of his mission and to whom he paid 2,000 euros per month for more than a year of the reserved funds of the Ministry of the Interior. The purpose of this monitoring was supposedly to spy on the former treasurer of the PP Luis Bárcenas and steal compromising documentation for Mariano Rajoy’s party.

The Internal Affairs report relates Villarejo’s contacts with Cospedal and his environment through direct calls to a dozen mobile or landlines and WhatsApp messages. In addition, it includes how these communications coincide with the notes of the commissioner in his personal notebooks, where he wrote down the content of each conversation, in some case referring to what is now called caso Kitchen.

Among the information collected -extracted from one of the telephones intervened in Villarejo after his arrest in 2017-, the agents point out that on July 11, 2013, just the day the parapolice deployment was activated according to the judge, Cospedal personally called the commissioner and talk for 19 seconds. That same day, Villarejo noted in his diary: “Cospe: Very fly with the summons. I advised him to call Chisco ”. Chisco was Francisco Martínez, then Secretary of State for Security, to whom the instruction gives the role of coordinator of the operation.

On July 18, three days after Bárcenas confessed for the first time in the National Court, a new contact takes place between Villarejo and the environment of the popular leader. “MDC is calling you,” López del Hierro wrote to the commissioner.

The investigating judge, Manuel García-Castellón, closed the case against Cospedal and her husband, considering that there were insufficient evidence against them, and presented the following argument: “We must remember that the fact that Mrs. Cospedal met with Mr. Villarejo (one, four or several occasions) does not presuppose the existence of any criminal offense. Neither Mr. Villarejo, nor anyone who had met with him, should be held criminally responsible for this, to the extent that it implies the exercise of a fundamental right of constitutional protection, the right of assembly. The recordings from the digital medium, together with this piece, do not allow inferring the intention indicated by the prosecutor. They are audios of unknown origin and therefore of doubtful reliability; at no time do you hear who seems to be the investigated [Dolores de Cospedal] state the reasons for the meeting; it is a recording that records only a fragment of a conversation, apparently, by one of the interlocutors, the duration and context of which are unknown ”.

The magistrate also rejected other initiatives requested by the Prosecutor’s Office to search for the alleged recordings that Bárcenas made after meeting with former president Mariano Rajoy to discuss the box b of the PP, as well as the compilation of more evidence to “advance in the identification of other individuals captured as confidants, other than the driver Sergio Ríos” and who allegedly participated in activities of control and espionage of the former treasurer in the Soto del Real prison.

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