This Monday, the former president of Spain Mariano Rajoy (2011 – 2018) testified in the Congress of Deputies before the open parliamentary commission to investigate the Kitchen case.
This is the name of an operation allegedly orchestrated by the Ministry of the Interior from 2013, coinciding with his mandate, to seize the former Treasurer of the Popular Party (PP) Luis Bárcenas documents that compromised the formation to which he belongs in various corruption plots . This case is also being investigated in court.
Rajoy has denied knowing ex-commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, a key part of the parapolice plot; and he has said that he trusts the innocence of who was his former Interior Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, accused in the case. “I do not know Mr. Villarejo nor do I know of having seen him anywhere”He pointed to the first, whom he has accused of lying to get rid of his “judicial problems.”
The reports of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Police point out as responsible both members of the Executive that Rajoy presided over as well as senior officials of his party. Thus, there would be multiple indications that PP leaders they knew details of secret judicial investigations on cases of corruption that involved political formation, such as those known as the Gürtel case or ‘box B’, and which have tried to eliminate the evidence.
The congressional commission has been working for almost a year, since March, in which they have held 20 sessions and have been carried out 40 interrogations to various political and police officials, in parallel to the judicial investigation of this process.
Until now, the investigations carried out by the investigating judge, Manuel García-Castellón, have concluded that the Ministry of the Interior carried out in 2013 a follow-up operation on Bárcenas and his family Of which neither the police unit nor the magistrate who at that time were investigating the former treasurer were informed. The objective would be to get hold of the sensitive documentation that Bárcenas still had in his possession to destroy it.
However, for the moment the judge attributes all responsibility for this operation to the Ministry of the Interior, then led by Rajoy’s personal friend, Jorge Fernández Díaz, leaving the party on the sidelines for now, according to the order issued on July 29.
The Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office is not of the same opinion and is inclined towards the hypothesis that the PP is fully involved. Thus, he attributes a personal interest to María Dolores de Cospedal, who at that time was the party’s general secretary, as well as president of the Castilla-La Mancha region.
The indications that point to Cospedal are varied and she was charged, along with her husband, the businessman Ignacio López del Hierro, for nine months, until in July of this year the judge decided to dismiss both of them. Among the signs that point to the marriage is an audio in which the two spouses talk with the ex-commissioner Villarejo, the pillar of the so-called “patriotic police” and linked to at least a dozen court cases, on “specific assignments.”
There’s also recordings in which Villarejo informs López del Hierro about secret judicial investigations against the PP. Also, suspicions are raised by the figure of Andrés Gómez Gordo, Cospedal’s advisor who participated in the capture of the Bárcenas driver who would have carried out espionage work and, even, would have stolen documents from the former treasurer.
Unknowns about the role of Rajoy
Both the judicial inquiries and the appearances in this congressional commission have left several certainties, but the most important unknown remains to be cleared up: the role that the then Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, played in this parapolice plot. paid for with public funds of the Ministry of the Interior and that involved some thirty police officers.
Rajoy’s appearance is the last in this scenario. The former president has already announced that I would answer all the questions that they were formulated to him, and he has not provided any news that he had not stated on several occasions previously: that he does not know the former commissioner Villarejo or anything about the Kitchen operation.
For the moment, the National Court, the judicial body that is carrying out this case, has excluded both Rajoy, who has not even been summoned as a witness, and Cospedal, so the highest charge that will have to render accounts before the court will be the former Minister of the Interior.
Fernández Díaz, for his part, in his successive statements has recognized the existence of this plot, but has limited its development to the Popular Party, leaving the Ministry on the sidelines, although he has not wanted to name Rajoy at any time.
However, Villarejo has expressly appointed the former president twice. The first within this commission, in May, when he reported that dispatched directly with Rajoy by phone to inform you of the development of the operation. In his second appearance, in October, he maintained that he met him in person at the party’s national headquarters, on Genova street in Madrid.
The parliamentary commission will begin to draw up its conclusions immediately, as they must be approved before the end of the year. Then, in the first session of 2022, the opinion will be submitted to the Plenary of Congress, which must ratify it.
The report is expected to be a Compendium of charges against the Popular Party, which will possibly be the only parliamentary force not to back it up. Thus, the debate in plenary will turn into a partisan confrontation in which the current president of the PP, Pablo Casado, will suffer to try to separate himself from his predecessors, despite having grown up politically in their shadow.