Gürtel corruption ring leaders slammed

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FAMOUSLY nickname ‘El Bigotes’ Francisco Correa, Pablo Crespo and Álvaro Pérez were handed their 13-year sentences by the High Court earlier in February for unlawfully securing event organisation contracts from the regional government of Valencia.

The ruling of the court on 10th February was that all of the accused were guilty of manipulating the contracts to design, set up and take down the Valencia region pavilion at Fitur, Spain’s premier tourism fair, as well as at other lesser events. The contracts favored Gürtel businesses for five years in a row, between 2005 and 2009 and the ring misappropriated €5million of public funds.

The trial in February was the first of various to be held in connection with the investigations, with the second now underway at the National Court in Madrid. Correa and his companions will leave their cells in order to give evidence once again in knowledge that they could well see their jail terms extended considerably as a result.

In order to attend the second trial, the trio were transferred to a penitentiary centre in Madrid  after spending nearly a week in the prison of Picassent, the judge having ruled that they should not be allowed to walk free pending confirmation of the sentences as they presented a flight risk.

Lawyers representing both Crespo and Correa disputed this, alleging that public opinion had been allowed to influence the decision. Correa’s lawyer also explained how Correa had offered to deposit bail of €278,000 with the courts where the ban on his Swiss bank accounts to be lifted. This paled into insignificance when the courts reminded him that a fine of €3.9million has been imposed upon him.

With nearly 200 official suspects, it is the largest pre-trial probe in modern Spanish history and has been broken up into sections to facilitate the investigation.

The trial continues.

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