Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hunting For An Alibi

The corruption case brought by judge Baltasar Garzón against various people either inside or close to the Partido Popular continues to advance with three of the accused already in prison and a long list of others set to declare in the next few weeks. We now know that the list of accused includes both the former mayor of Boadilla del Monte (who finally resigned his position under huge PP pressure) and also the former mayor of Majadahonda who also "resigned" from his refuge with the Comunidad de Madrid the other day. The investigation is by no means over, and there are strong indications that others will be accused. Alberto López Viejo, the member of Esperanza Aguirre's administration who was also very quickly removed the other day, is suspected of involvement with the principal figures involved. However, he has immunity as a member of the regional assembly and Garzón would have to surrender the case to a different court in order to accuse him.

Yesterday, on the day they were holding their emergency meeting to deal with the crisis, the PP grabbed at a chance to portray everything as an evil plot by the government after El Mundo revealed that Baltasar Garzón and Justice minister Mariano Bermejo had coincided on a hunting trip last weekend. Unfortunately for the PP, it was later revealed that the man organising the day's hunting was also a party member; deflating fairly quickly the idea that Garzón and Bermejo had set it all up so that they could kill animals and plot the downfall of the PP at the same time. You could argue that hunting down members of the PP is both easier to justify ethically, and probably more enjoyable from a sporting point of view, than decimating the harmless wildlife of Andalucia. Each to their own.

Despite this setback, the PP is trying to come out fighting and has declared that they will no longer cooperate with the government on justice issues while Bermejo remains in his post. The net effect of this measure will be zero, it will just prolong indefinitely the already long overdue renovation of the Constitutional Court. They have also challenged Garzón as the judge to handle the case, arguing that his animosity towards the party means that he should be removed. For all the attempts to present the PP as victims of a political vendetta, when Esperanza Aguirre sacks people because of their potential involvement in legal difficulties then you just know something is going on. It would be nice to think she acted in the interests of integrity and transparency but no drug strong enough to make me believe that has yet been invented.

Reports of the PP's meeting suggest that it was not quite the display of unity that leader Mariano Rajoy wanted. There were complaints about Madrid's problems affecting the party as a whole, whilst Jose Maria Aznar's wife, Ana Botella, whined that the PP was not doing enough to preserve the sacred memory of her husband's administration. She has reasons to be worried, some of the accused have been business associates of her daughter's husband Alejandro Agag, and the high point of their influence was during Aznar's time in office. It will take more than a bogus commission of investigation to kill this one.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of scoundrels really. If everyone hates bankers at the moment then these people had bankers in their pockets.

Graeme said...

We'll have to wait and see what happened to the money involved, although I suspect they may have used less conventional banking methods than those that most of us are used to.

Anonymous said...

Each to his own applies to your clearly biased opinion. You make several factual errors, e.g. El Mundo did not make the first disclosures. The fact is that the same kind of corruption alleged here exists in all the Spanish political parties, but for people CONVICTED of crimes linked to the Socialists the present government gives pardons, to those outstanding that involve its friends it ignores, and it leaked to ITS press (on the eve of two important elections) the intention to process for such corruption only people associated with the PP, using El Pais, the Party organ. If not enough, the so-called hunt was actually a slaughter in an enclosed area, public ground, and the minister had no license. Garzon is reported to have made a toast to his friends to twenty more years of Socialist power. There is no excuse to this affront to democratic process, to the separation of powers, and to both Constitutional law and common statutes. Rajoy and the PP that suffers his "leadership" is right for once, and anyone who believes in Justice and Democracy should decry the actions of the present Spanish government.

Graeme said...

You would be in a stronger position to accuse others of bias Brian if you didn't leave comments that look as if they have been cut and pasted from a PP press release. You claim I make several errors, yet the only one you cite doesn't stand up, nowhere in this post do I claim that El Mundo made the first disclosures on the case. I may have my biases, and as other commentators have noted I don't do much to hide them, but at least I take the trouble to read broadly on a topic before I write about it. Your erroneous claim suggests that you haven't even read my post.

As for the rest, the time has long passed when the PP can try using the events of 15-20 years ago to try and deflect attention from the evident reality that many of their elected representatives are deeply mired in serious corruption scandals. The party that did its very best to bring down the Madrid bombings trial, and which has effectively wrecked the constitutional court in its determination to pack it with hardline party loyalists is in no position to lecture anyone on the separation of powers. Why no indignation about the PP appointed member of the CGPJ who (ab)uses his position to defend his political godfather in Valencia? The Garzón case, I have to remind you, was not initiated by the Spanish government - the original denuncia came from within the PP and was presented over a year before anyone was even thinking about the regional elections. The major problem for the PP seems to be that their Madrid party is a nest of vipers, and people can't even get on with quietly making themselves richer at public expense without one of their fellow members going to the police about it. The idea that acting upon that denuncia and proceeding against at least some of the thieves should be an affront to democracy is truly bizarre.

Troy said...

First of all, and what if Graeme is biased? It is after all...a blog.

But then we could move on to the supposed argument, "How can you accuse us of corruption, you did it too!" Of course the same kind of corruption exists in all the Spanish parties, I don't think that anyone argues that it doesn't. But because of this, none should be investigated and they should be able to turn us into Azerbaijan West?

What affront to democratic process are you talking about Brian? Because a judge attends a dinner with one party, he therefore cannot investigate the opposition? With that logic, we'd have to lock judges up for the periods of time they are sitting. It gets even stranger if you consider the fact that Garzon has...strange as it may seem, had lunches and dinners with PP members too!

Tom said...

@Brian - see how members of the PP tried to pervert the course of justice after the Madrid bombings and you'll see why Spain's leading lawyer wants the PSOE to remain in government.

No party is perfect, everyone knows this. But the PP are even less perfect than the PSOE.

Oh and by the way, if you think that it's somehow scandalous that a judge might have spent some time hunting with politicians, you must be either faux-naïf or just plain old naïf.