The Third Section of the Malaga Court, which is in charge of judging the defendants in the so-called ‘Astapa’ case, on the alleged political and urban corruption in the Malaga town of Estepona, has requested reinforcement of personnel and magistrates to face the prosecution of this case, which has 351,114 pages and 50 defendants.

This is stated in the order issued by this Chamber, which received the entire procedure in July of this year, in which former municipal officials, businessmen and officials are accused. In addition, there are 284 witnesses and 48 experts, three accusations and another 27 persons or entities as alleged subsidiary or for-profit responsible parties.

The case, according to the Chamber’s brief, to which Europa Press has had access, consists of 128 main volumes –more than 71,000 pages– and 646 documentary pieces –260,472 pages–; to which must be added the pieces of civil and pecuniary responsibilities, precautionary measures and personal situation. In addition, various preliminary issues are announced in the defense briefs.

The Court says that they are already setting trials for November 2023 and specifies that in order to avoid any delay in the trial it is necessary to “appoint reinforcements of personnel” not only for the trial but also “to enable the normal activity” of the rest of the matters, because “otherwise it would seriously undermine the functioning of this section”.

Given this, the Chamber informs that it has addressed an official letter to the competent body to request the appointment of officials, computer technicians and other auxiliary personnel necessary for the processing of this case and also that it will request the Presidency of the Court of Malaga « the appointment of two magistrates to act in the Third Section of said Court».

The other major case of corruption in the province of Malaga, the ‘Malaya’ case, was tried by a Court of the First Section of the Malaga Court and had 95 defendants and some 400 witnesses. The trial, for which there were reinforcements, had almost 200 sessions, beginning on September 27, 2010 and ending on July 31, 2012.

‘Astapa’ arrived at the Malaga Court 15 years after the investigation in the Court of First Instance and Instruction number 1 of Estepona. Among the 50 defendants is the former mayor Antonio Barrientos and other former municipal officials of the PSOE and the Estepona Party (PES). Crimes of falsehood, fraud, embezzlement, bribery, prevarication and influence peddling are investigated.

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office accuses for allegedly having “a ‘Box B’ with contributions from developers with real estate interests”, through donations or sponsorship of activities; and for alleged irregularities in urban planning agreements –both planning and exploitation– to “benefit certain businessmen”. Estimated at 28 million euros the damage to the City Council.

The public accusation understands that “in order to avoid any internal or external control mechanism” the defendants “chose to finance a good part of that expense with the creation of a ‘Box B’, a procedure already used in other municipalities of the Costa del Sol, which basically it would be nourished by contributions from promoters and businessmen with real estate interests».

In his initial brief, the prosecutor considers that the contributions allegedly “translated into direct donations to the City Council, in sponsorship of activities” and also in “assuming municipal debts as expenses of the companies.” In addition, “an irregular practice was normalized that made any relevant initiative in urban matters subject to prior negotiation and agreement with the leadership of one or another party.”

The former mayor has always defended his innocence and his actions at all times “within the law”; in addition to ensuring that he “has never been enriched or obtained any benefit, either direct or indirect”, outside of the remuneration of his position as alderman. In addition, he stresses that the existing reports are “riddled with errors” and will raise annulments at the beginning of the trial.

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