The Supreme Court has made public this Monday the sentence in which it endorses the decision of the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, to dismiss, in August 2018, the Colonel of the Civil Guard Manuel Sánchez Corbí as head of the Central Unit Operative (UCO), the main investigative unit of the Civil Guard in the fight against corruption and organized crime. In the ruling, whose meaning was advanced on September 20, the five magistrates of the Fourth Section of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber conclude that the dismissal had a “clear, sufficient and understandable motivation” for the loss of confidence that he used Interior to order it and, therefore, it was adjusted to the legality.
With this sentence, the Supreme rejects the appeal filed by the colonel and supports the two sentences issued in the same sense by the National Court in December 2019 and July of the following year. The Supreme Court still has to rule on another controversial dismissal of a high-ranking Civil Guard officer, also Colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos, who was also dismissed by Grande-Marlaska due to loss of confidence after details of a Guard investigation were leaked to the press. Civil on the Women’s Day demonstration in Madrid on March 8, 2020 and its alleged relationship with the spread of covid-19.
Sánchez Corbí’s dismissal occurred shortly after Grande-Marlaska assumed the Interior portfolio and was the result of an email that the high command sent to his subordinates. In that message, the colonel reported that the unit’s reserved funds box had been exhausted and suspended “any activity that requires the use of funds from that item.” Interior, where at that time a hidden battle was taking place between the Civil Guard and the National Police for the quotas of power in the restructuring promoted by Grande-Marlaska, interpreted the message, which was leaked to the press, as an ordeal, and ordered the dismissal of Sánchez Corbí, considering that he had suspended operations in progress without authorization.
The dismissal of the high command, who had held the position since December 2015, caused discomfort in the armed institute and opened an abyss in his relationship with the minister. Months later, Sánchez Corbí was assigned to a non-operational position, as head of the Protection and Security Service (Seprose), in charge of the Civil Guard’s relations with private security companies. In February 2021, the colonel requested his discharge from active service to join the private company, specifically the Acciona group.
In their resolution known this Monday, the magistrates, in line with the two sentences of the National High Court, consider that any dismissal in a position of free appointment of the Administration requires a motivation in which they are made “clear the reasons why This loss of confidence occurs, essential in the performance of this type of position” so that the affected person “can defend himself”. For the Supreme Court, in the specific case of Sánchez Corbí, that motivation existed when detailing Interior in the termination order that this was produced by sending the email in which he ordered his subordinates to suspend operations “without having received any type of instruction from its organic controls or judicial authority or Public Prosecutor’s Office, putting at risk the success of police and judicial operations.”
For the magistrates, this Interior text “provides a clear, sufficient, understandable and specific motivation for the case”, without these explanations being labeled as “generic or standardized”. The ruling highlights that the colonel himself “was aware of the reasons that led to his dismissal and acted accordingly, as evidenced by the argument put forward in his defense in successive challenges.”
The sentence also rejects that the dismissal was a disciplinary sanction “neither overt nor covert”, as Sánchez Corbí stated in his appeal, and emphasizes that it did not entail “an affront to the professionalism of the appellant”. The ruling recalls a ruling of the high court of September 2019 that concluded that freely appointed positions do not give those who occupy it “a right to tenure in that specific position.” For all these reasons, the court rejects the appeal and confirms the sentence of the National High Court.
High media command
Colonel Manuel Sánchez Corbí spent more than two years as head of the UCO. Coming from the fight against ETA, the colonel established investigative methods in the unit similar to those that had been successful against terrorism. With him at the head of the unit, numerous cases of corruption were uncovered, such as punic, Lezo either Angora, and crimes like that of little Gabriel Cruz or that of Diana Quer were solved. Her face became popular precisely after the arrest of José Enrique Abuín, The gum, as the author of the death of the young woman. Sánchez Corbí starred in a crowded press conference, which most of the television channels broadcast live, in which he gave details of the case and criticized the role of the media.