Updated 5 April: Well, after 22 court sessions heard over nearly four months, the biggest ever urban corruption trial in Tenerife is over, with 13 municipal employees and councillors now waiting to discover the sentences they are to receive for illegal licences, corruption, embezzlement, and misuse of public office. I say sentence because I don’t imagine anyone is in any doubt as to the actual verdicts after what has been openly admitted during the trial. In total, 47 years in prison have been requested by the fiscal, with 150 years of bans on holding office and fines of up to around €28m. The verdicts are expected around the end of this month, and after the likely appeals, to be completed by June.
Updated 15 January: One early example of how the trial might proceed is sure to amuse some and infuriate others. In Court yesterday, the defendants in the Caso Arona blamed a former municipal town clerk, now deceased, for the “licensing errors”. The defendants argue that the clerk’s offences are now being treated as their own corruption, but some might think they should have found a better culprit since the “licensing errors” relate to the period up to 2007, three years after the clerk died in 2004. Moreover, the Court heard that there was no record that the official, José Angel Alvarez, had ever had anything to do with the licences awarded.
Meanwhile, former mayor Reverón has admitted to the Court that some of the licences he awarded were technically illegal. When awarding contracts for resurfacing of roads in the Cabo Blanco area, for example, the works were split up so as to make each contract fall under the amount which needed council approval. Reverón said that he thought it was legal to do it that way since the areas being resurfaced were separate streets.
Update 12 January 2016: And, finally, it’s underway. Tenerife’s biggest ever urban corruption case – the whole series of cases which comprise the Caso Arona (the Arona case: the previous posts, each of which has its own internal links, are HERE) – has finally reached trial, nearly ten years after the first denuncias were issued.
The case will be heard by the sixth section of the Provincial court, which is expected to sit until 9 May, and will try a total of fifteen politicians, former council employees including the then municipal architect, and businessmen, for urban planning offences, bribery, corruption, nepotism, and embezzlement. Those in power in Arona between 2003 and 2007 are accused of issuing some 300 illegal concession agreements, 200 illegal building licences, and 75 illegal contracts.
Those in the dock include the previous banned mayor José Alberto González Reverón (CC), for whom the public prosecutor is requesting three years in prison, a 35 year ban on holding office or public service, and a €20,000 fine. In total, the prison terms demanded for all the accused total 28 years, with fines in the millions of Euros. No doubt there will be some stunning revelations coming out of Court over the next few months.
Update 27 July 2011: Arona Court 2 has today initiated preliminary legal action for planning irregulariities against the 30 suspects, including the current mayor, José Alberto González Reverón.
The preliminary action phase (in Spanish diligencias previas) is a formal part of the procedure, which aims to determine the nature and circumstances of the alleged crimes, ranging from influence peddling to outright corruption, the individuals involved, and the legal mechanism (i.e. which court and procedures) for the cases to be heard.
The judgement for the procedure to be initiated was given today by the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Canarias (TSJC – effectively the Canarian High Court) on the basis that there are questions for these officials to answer into planning in the municipality, not least some concerning ongoing “influence trafficking” and “official misconduct” (malfeasance) by the mayor, who is alleged to have consistently favoured his cousin and fellow councillor, Manuel Reverón González.
In the judgement, the Judge indicated that these 30 individuals voted systematically in favour of building licences despite the files showing unfavourable technical reports.
Original post 30 June 2009: The Caso Arona, a series of investigations into alleged urban planning irregularities in Arona, has finally had its sub judice legal status lifted by Nelson Díaz Frías, Judge of Arona #7 Court, who said that he felt the investigations of materials submitted by the Guardia Civil were now at such a stage that raising the judicial secrecy would not prejudice the case. Now it is known that the mayor of Arona, Jóse Alberto González Reverón, is accused of alleged embezzlement and corruption. Reveron will be in Court to give his evidence on 7 July. (Update 5 July: the mayor’s appearance in Court has now been postponed until the summer vacations are over. He will give evidence in September).
In addition to the mayor, a series of councillors, officials, independent professionals and businessmen are also accused of similar charges. Those who will also find themselves face to face with the Judge are Félix Sierra Melo, Antonio Sosa, Clara María Pérez, María Gladys Tacoronte, Manuel Reverón, María Candelaria Padrón, Eliseo de la Rosa, Arsenio Zamora, Roberto de Luis and Zenón Rodríguez. They will give evidence in the days following Reverón’s appearance.
It was only a fortnight ago that I reported HERE on the arrest of the former mayor of San Miguel Ayuntamiento, again on charges of urbanistic corruption while in office. Maybe the hubristic abuse of power by some individuals in positions of authority is finally beginning to catch up with them.