The defense of the former mayor of Estepona (Málaga) Antonio Barrientos, accused in the ‘Astapa’ case, on alleged political and urban corruption in that town, has asked the Court of the Malaga Court that will judge the case to accept the requested proceedings as evidence early to investigate the alleged involvement of retired commissioner José Manuel Villarejo at the beginning of the procedure and in the alleged “manipulation” of reports.

This is requested through a letter, to which Europa Press has had access, sent to the Third Section of the Provincial Court, as a result of the information published on the alleged participation of Villarejo in the preparation of reports that could be “false” in various operations, including ‘Astapa’; and in order to thus guarantee the exercise of the right of defense of the accused parties.

For this part, this is intended to “know the true participation and influence of the former commissioner in the planning and development of the so-called ‘Operation Astapa'”, as well as in the beginning of this case, considering that this “may have conditioned the validity of the serious precautionary measures adopted” throughout the investigation.

“And it is that everything points to the manipulation of the judicial system for the achievement by certain police commanders of spurious purposes,” says Barrientos’ defense brief, who has always maintained his innocence and has insisted throughout the entire procedure that the police reports are “riddled with errors” and, later, also in Villarejo’s participation.

In the brief presented now, it is recalled that the court was already informed on two occasions during the investigation –in 2009 and in 2011– of alleged “falsehoods” in police reports; something that, says this part, would have determined measures such as the arrest and imprisonment of Barrientos; and that relevant data was “silenced” “for exculpatory purposes”, such as the urban planning complaints that he presented.

Then, it was urged that the agents who had made those reports be withdrawn from the investigation, but the court, indicates the lawyer, “did not take any action in this regard” and although it admitted “errors” in the documents, it justified it in the complexity of the cause; “Indicating that they would surely be corrected in subsequent reports, which never happened.”

Likewise, it is insisted that judicial, police and journalistic documentation derived from ‘Operation Tandem’ has also been requested in his defense brief on the alleged link between Villarejo and ‘Astapa’ and with the preparation of reports for this case, such as his agendas or “the letter he sent from prison in May 2019 in which he acknowledged having carried out what he called intelligence work in the Estepona case.”

The investigating court opened an oral trial against 50 defendants in this case, including the former mayor of Estepona, for the crimes of falsehood, fraud, embezzlement, bribery, prevarication and influence peddling, for which the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office requests a sentence of ten years and nine months in prison, disqualification from public employment for a period of 38 years and a fine.

In addition, five other former municipal officials who were then members of the PSOE and the Estepona Party (PES) are accused; as well as businessmen and officials. Companies are also listed as subsidiary civil liability and other persons as alleged civil liability for profit.

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