“It is not strange that there are cases of theft of state property.” In an interview with La Razón, just three years before Rita Barbera lost her post as mayor, official Esmeralda Orero, the most decorated civil servant under investigation in the Azuda case, assured that “decisions are made by the politician and executed by the technician.” The preludes to the balls of the alleged plot (mostly contractual documents) passed through the hands of a select group of officials who testified before the investigating judge.
José Luis Camarero Gómez, a career civil servant since 1981, testified before the investigating judge in the Azuda case that he left the Licensing Service “because Esmeralda Orero was named CEO”, with whom he “didn’t get along” while supporting Labor Differences. The statements of the defendants appearing in the Azuda case summary, accessed by elDiario.es, reveal phobias and affiliations among the leadership of municipal civil servants in the era of Rita Barbera.
Orero, a member of the Valencia City Council since 1984, was identified by former deputy mayor Alfonso Grau’s adviser as an official with “great powers” in the municipal corporation, having “direct contact with Rita Barbera and her sister Asuncion.” Barbera, head of the late first mayor’s cabinet. “Also with Alfonso Grau,” although if the then deputy mayor “ordered her something that she did not like, Esmeralda would immediately go to Asuncion Barbera or Rita,” Gordillo assured in his testimony.
The high-ranking official, highly trusted by the first mayor right up to skipping the ranks, had a startling nickname: “The Black Spider,” the title of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez’s famous novel depicting the Society of Jesus in pamphlet format. “She was always dressed in black,” the witness clarifies.
Penitent: “Alfonso Grau commanded the city council”
The statement of a repentant Jesús Gordillo played a key role in bringing together both the separate Part A of the Taula case, concerning the alleged illegal financing of Rita Barbera’s municipal campaigns, and the Azuda case. Gordillo had a privileged view of town hall gossip, having been an adviser to Grau and working for the Laterne business network, owned by the late businessman Vicente Saez, and a front company of sorts to fund popular campaigns of opaque contributions from municipal contractors.
The witness offered Justice of the Peace Pepe Tarodo, an instructor in the Azuda case, a real master class in the work of the city council, which Rita Barbera led for 24 years, and its household and family terminals. “Alfonso Grau was in charge of the city council and nothing was done unless he gave his consent,” said the pentito. Thus, the then vice-mayor, accused in the “Toula case” and one of the main defendants in the “Azud case”, had “command power” that was “complete”. “Rita consulted with him on all issues,” he adds. Alfonso Grau, from whom it was “very difficult to get any information”, was “very cautious”.
Mayor Carlos Mundina and tennis club parking
Spokesman José Luis Camarero Gomez also told the judge a telling anecdote about the activities of the Municipal Corporation during the term of Rita Barbera. The investigation said the popular mayor’s son-in-law, lawyer José María Corbin, went to speak with him, accompanied by the president of the Valencia Tennis Club, to build a 300-space car park under the clay courts.
The club, an elite institution of the Valencian bourgeoisie, founded in 1905 and located in a prestigious area a stone’s throw from the Jardines de Viveros, faced the refusal of an official: “It’s impossible.” José Luis Camarero Gómez, according to his statement before the judge, later received a call from Carlos Mundina, an adviser to then-urban planning adviser Jorge Belver, a regional deputy from the PP who was investigating the Azuda case.
Carlos Mundina, current councilor of the people’s group in the Valencia city council, along with municipal secretary Manuel Latorre, “asked for an explanation” from the official about his refusal to build a 300-space car park at the Valencia Tennis Club. .
Secretary Manuel Latorre, who is not under investigation, testified as a witness and also left several messages indicative of phobias and affiliations of Rita Barbera’s confidants. As for Néstor Ramirez, head of the Valencia city council’s legal department, who died in 2011, he claimed that “discrepancies” persisted in the city’s reports. “He was not a legal recommender,” adds Manuel Latorre, who says he had “good treatment” with Alfonso Grau.
Despite the death of the former head of legal services, anti-corruption prosecutor Pablo Ponce recalls that Spanish law allows for the confiscation of illegal proceeds even after the death of the defendant, so that “in no case can the profit be used” by the heirs.
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