Fifteen years after the opening of the astapa case against political-urban corruption in Esteponathe judicial procedure faces the trial after the section in which the oral hearing will be held has been designated.
The third section of the Provincial Court of Malaga will be in charge of holding the trial and the speaker of the sentence has already been appointed, according to a judicial proceeding to which Efe has had access, and in which it is not yet specified when it will be held. In said judicial resolution it is indicated that it is waiting to receive all the proceedings and after examining that it is complete, it will be transferred to said magistrate.
The arrival of the case at the Provincial Court of Malaga has occurred after the Court of First Instance and Instruction number 1 of Estepona agreed to refer the case to Malaga so that it could take turns and determine which room was going to hold the oral hearing.
One of the lawyers defending the case, José Carlos Aguilera, has denounced to EFE that “Astapa will be the longest cause of our criminal process and where the undue delays are the largest in history.”
The prosecutor presented his indictment on June 27, 2018 and has requested ten years and nine months in prison and thirty-eight years of disqualification for the former socialist mayor of Estepona Antonio Barrientos.
The former alderman is accused of continued crimes of falsehood, fraud, embezzlement, bribery, prevarication and influence peddlingaccording to the provisional brief, which accuses 51 people, among whom are former councillors, businessmen and municipal employees and the dismissal of 39 is requested.
Barrientos has always defended that he acted within the law and maintains that he has never enriched himself or obtained benefits outside of the remuneration of his position as alderman while stressing in his defense brief, to which EFE has had access, that the police and Tax Agency reports are “plagued of errors”.
The investigation began in November 2006 when two socialist councilors presented in Madrid, before the Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit (UDEF) of the National Police Corps, a letter accompanied by abundant documentation in which they denounced that in the area of the Estepona City Council crimes related to with corruption.
In the prosecutor’s indictmentwhich consists of 162 pages, explains that between 2003 and the first half of 2007 the coalition government formed by the PSOE and the Estepona Party (PES) created a B box in the Estepona City Council in order to increase public spending, that was unaffordable with the budgetary resources of the municipality.
The prosecutor maintains that said box B It was nourished by economic contributions from developers and businessmen with real estate interests, “who naturally were not obliged to bear any payment that was imposed on them by means of pressure or through practices of misuse of power sponsored by local governments.”
Such contributions were translated into direct donations to the City Council, sponsorships of sports and cultural activities, and also in the assumption as the companies’ own expenses of certain debts that the councils or municipal companies had with their suppliers, which frequently led to manipulations in the object of the corresponding invoices or the issuance of other false documents.
The businessmen required used to accept these pressures so as not to harm business opportunities and in the following years an irregular practice was normalized that made any relevant initiative or measure in urban matters normal.