The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office does not throw in the towel in the Punic case and has requested that Lucía Figar, Minister of Education of the Community of Madrid during the governments of Esperanza Aguirre and Ignacio González, be imputed again – for the third time. Through a very harsh appeal, loaded with reproaches against the examining magistrate Manuel García-Castellón, the public prosecutor describes as “unfair” the magistrate’s decision to file the open case against the former PP politician, who has been investigated since 2015 for pay with public funds to one of the companies of the plot to develop works of reputation on the Internet in their favor.
In its brief, signed by the prosecutors Carmen García Cerdá and María Teresa Gálvez, the public prosecution considers that it has sufficient evidence to sit Figar on the bench and “practice the abundant evidence collected in the oral trial.” In this sense, Anticorruption insists that the former popular leader maneuvered so that the Ministry of Education paid the companies of Alejandro de Pedro, one of the businessmen involved in Púnica, for work to improve his image on the web. “One of her tasks was to eliminate the negative news that was published about her, as they shamelessly collected the reputation reports prepared for her,” say the researchers in her appeal, dated March 27.
The prosecutors emphasize that the activity under suspicion has never been related to the public function that Figar had for the position he held, but rather that it pursued a “private” purpose. In other words, they were executed for his “personal” benefit and “did not satisfy a public need”, as Judge García-Castellón put on the table when filing the case against the former counselor. In addition, according to the public ministry, the “legality” was violated by dividing the works into “23 minor contracts for a total amount of 59,307.35 euros”, “altering the process” of awarding.
“The behaviors described for several years were not only abusive and conscious deviations to the detriment of the public treasury, but also dishonestly violated the obligations of transparency and truthfulness in the management and administration of public assets,” says Anticorrupción in its letter. Among the evidence, the prosecutors list “evidence” such as “purchase invoices for false Twitter users, manuals for their creation, records of Lucía Figar’s personal access codes to social networks…”. All of this, the researchers add, violates “the right of citizens to receive truthful information, contained in article 20 of the Constitution”: “And the instructor does not include anything about such right and the legality of payment for work aimed at displacing the news from public office with public funds”, they reproach the judge.
The battle in the Court
The magistrate and the Prosecutor’s Office maintain a battle around the figure of the former Madrid counselor. The judge closed the case against Figar for the first time in October. But the Criminal Chamber corrected him. At the request of the public prosecutor, the court considered that the ex-politician was challenged in the line of investigation of the investigations into the irregular financing of the PP in Madrid (Piece 9), when she was really under suspicion in Piece 10, focused on reputation jobs on-line.
Again, this March, García-Castellón again shelved the case against Figar. He now does so in Piece 10, arguing that the reputation works on the Internet from which he benefited cannot be separated from the public office he held. The investigating judge stated that it has not been “proven” that the services contracted by Education “had an exclusively laudatory character” of the leader of the PP, “as if it were a separate entity from her position or from the institution she represented” .
A thesis that, in the opinion of Anticorruption, “does not conform to the law and violates the right of the Public Prosecutor to obtain effective judicial protection.” This is how he exposes it in his appeal, where he attacks “the drift” and “contradictions” of the magistrate. The public ministry accuses García-Castellón of “only giving value to the statement of those investigated, who can value their right not to tell the truth”; to base the file on old Supreme Court rulings “that have nothing to do with the facts”; or, even, of not having “read” the “digital evidence” incorporated into the summary.
“In the present case there has been a surprising twist. This without explaining the reasons or the new evaluations of the instructor, which leaves us defenseless and undermines our right to effective judicial protection”, affirms the Prosecutor’s Office, who is surprised because the judge “has stopped believing in all his sources of proof”, in reference to the police reports, to his own judicial expert and to an intervention report of the General Intervention of the State Administration (IGAE), dependent on the Ministry of Finance.
In its letter, in addition to requesting that the file of the case against Figar be revoked, the Prosecutor’s Office requests that Ignacio García de Vinuesa, former mayor of the PP in Alcobendas (Madrid), be charged again; Teresa Alonso-Majagranzas, former director of communication for that municipality; Pablo Balbín, former press officer for the Ministry of Education; Manuel Pérez, former Vice Minister of Education; and Luis Sánchez, former director of the Madri+d Foundation for Knowledge.
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