News April, 7th 2010 by

'Caso Minutas' corruption appeal begins

The appeal of the ‘caso Minutas’ corruption case began Tuesday in the Provincial Court of Malaga, with Sevilla football president and attorney José María Del Nido, former Marbella Mayor Julián Muñoz and former urban planner Juan Antonio Roca as defendants. In all, 18 people are charged with conspiracy or malfeasance in the case.

Jose Maria Del Nido, key figure in the 'caso Minutas' corruption scandal

The defendants are appealing their convictions and sentences for alleged involvement in an attempt to defraud the Marbella municipal government and embezzle the funds gained. Del Nido is alleged to have billed Marbella excessive amounts, more than 3 million euros, for legal services in 2001. Muñoz, who was mayor at the time, and Roca, who is the key player in the ‘Malaya’ corruption scheme, are alleged to have colluded with Del Nido in an attempt to become rich at the expense of the city.

The appeal was called by the defense attorney for Del Nido, Pedro Apalategui, on the grounds that the Marbella Court of Auditors had acquitted all those charged, and that conviction by the Provincial Court would constitute ‘conflicting decisions between two courts’.

‘All the facts have been judged and studied in the Court of Auditors’, Apalategui said. ‘The fact remains that the accounting, the liability lies with the Court of Auditors’.

Apalategui asserted that the Court of Auditors has issued at least ten statements supporting the sources and amounts of the fees that Del Nido received. The Court of Auditors ruled that no actual damage to public funds could be proven.

Apalategui requested that only Del Nido be tried on charges of malfeasance, fraud and embezzlement. He described all other charges as ‘surprising’, asserting that investigators never asked his client about them. Thus, the attorney said, all other charges violate the defendants’ right to know what they are accused of and their right to defense.

In addition to the appeal by Del Nido’s attorney, Roca’s defense counsellor Javier Sanchez-Vera has called for an annulment of the order to open the previous trial on the grounds that it violated the ‘principle of legality’. Sanchez-Vera asserted that no one can accuse his client of the crime of fraud because the charge ‘was not official or from authority’.

Responding to the defense’s arguments, the anti-corruption prosecutor said that the ruling of the Court of Auditors is not related to criminal proceedings because it was not based on a burden of proof. Prosecutors added that the regulations of the Court of Auditors include a proviso that its decisions may be held ‘without prejudice’ to what another court may rule.

Del Nido faces 13 and a half years in prison and seven years’ disqualification from the performance of work for fees or performance of work with companies contracting with the government.

Julián Muñoz is sentenced to 16 years and six months in prison, with 48 years of disqualification from work for conspiracy, administrative misrepresentation, fraud and misappropriation of public and corporate funds, as well as other charges. 

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