Wednesday, October 27

A flaw in form puts the investigation into risk for fraud in the Basque Health examinations again

The continuity of the investigation of the complaints of leaks in the 2018 medical examinations of the Basque Health Service (Osakidetza) is back on the air only two months after an extension of half a year was agreed, until the end of January 2022 An appeal by the lawyer Rubén Múgica, from the defendants’ defense team, could precisely overturn this extension due to a formal defect. This being the case, all the decisions adopted since then could be annulled, basically nine new indictments that were known in September. Moreover, since the extension was agreed, it took a month to notify and in the other month that has passed there has been no further movement in the case, according to judicial sources.

The magistrate of the leaks in the oppositions of the Basque Health ensures that analyzing the examinations “does not contribute anything”

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The new judicial controversy of an accident case from the beginning and that has already had three instructors, judges Yolanda Varona, Ana Jesús Zulueta and Cristina Rodríguez Ruiz, has its origin in a procedural reform agreed by the Government of Pedro Sánchez in July 2020 This new regulation gave a maximum period of twelve months to all the investigations opened at that time. That meant that just before the holidays, numerous matters were closed, from the ‘Kitchen operation’ to the investigation for reckless homicide for the collapse of the Zaldibar landfill. However, in the case of the Osakidetza OPE, the examinations under discussion, for example, had not even been reviewed and dozens of people remained to testify. The Prosecutor’s Office and the two unions that exercise the popular prosecution, LAB and ESK, requested the maximum extension allowed by law, six months. As this newspaper published, Rodríguez Ruiz agreed to it but let the whole summer pass without notifying it. When he did so, he also issued a very brief order in which he explained that it was “impossible” to consider the matter yet settled, that there were “multiple” things to do and that a “separate” resolution would communicate them.

According to the appeal, to which has had access, the defense lawyer emphasizes that the government reform established that “the extensions will be adopted by means of a car where the causes that have prevented the investigation from being completed on time will be reasonably exposed, as well as such as the specific procedures that need to be carried out and their relevance to the investigation “. The appeal states that “the order does not reasonably state the causes” but remains a “mere generality”.

If the appeal were successful, the extension and, therefore, all decisions taken after the deadline would be annulled. These would include the September order in which the new accusations were developed, witness statements and documentary evidence that explained the need to continue investigating. Precisely, that resolution was more commented for what it did not include than for what it really agreed, since the former Minister of Health, Jon Darpón, and the former general director of Osakidetza, María Jesús Múgica, were exempted from all criminal responsibility in the case. resigned for this matter. The LAB union has appealed this exemption and insists that irregularities could not have occurred without the responsibility of the Basque Health dome. However, this debate would come to nothing if the prior appeal on the extension was accepted.

What would happen then? The investigation would be completed and only the elements collected before July could be assessed to request the opening of a trial. The mishap is such that there are eleven defendants but one of them has not even appeared, Iñigo Echevarria, a member of the court in the Traumatology category, in which there is a complaint from a colleague that the examinations were “photocopies” of each other and with relation to the correction template. In these three years since the exams were held, in addition to the changes of instructor, there have been long stops in the cause.

In any case, the new magistrate, Rodríguez Ruiz, has already made it clear that there are some lines that the investigation will not follow and one of them is that the examinations that are precisely the axis of the case will not be reviewed. “In relation to the contribution of the originals of the examinations, it is neither necessary nor useful to bring to this procedure a volume of documentation that will not be examined by the court due to the scant interest it has for the case, as well as the unnecessary need to read an endless succession of medical questions whose content and answer is totally alien to the jurisdictional function and which is not the subject of this proceeding, since an incorrect assessment of the exams is not being prosecuted, but a possible leak, “he argued. When some copies of Anesthesia arrived, for example, it could be seen that their wording was very similar in order, concepts used and even the same errors were repeated.

It so happens that it is not the first time that a defect in form has ruined some progress in this investigation. At the beginning of 2020, the then instructor Ana Jesús Zulueta proceeded to the indictment of José Antonio Elexpuru and Eduvigis Álvarez, members of the OPE Neurosurgery and Neurophysiology courts, with a car in which the crimes were not indicated in a motivated manner. that incidentally they would have committed not even the detail of their actions. That decision was successfully appealed by another defense attorney, Jesús Urraza.

An Administration insurance covers the defense expenses of the accused

On the other hand, the Minister of Health, Gotzone Sagardui, has reported this week in the Basque Parliament at the request of the health spokesperson of EH Bildu, Rebeka Ubera, that the Government is not directly paying the legal defense of the accused in this case . However, it does do so indirectly. There is a “civil / patrimonial, general or exploitation liability insurance policy of the Autonomous Community Administration” that “has as insured the employees and dependents of the Insured Administrations in the exercise of their functions or activity on behalf of the Administrations “. This assumes that the insurance “covers legal defense expenses” since it is interpreted that being a member of a court of the OPE is a function of the position of these doctors.

According to Sagardui, “in this case, as usual, Osakidetza notified the insurance of the existence of the insured incident” to activate the procedure. “Each insured professional and the insurance maintain their relationship without the intervention of Osakidetza”, indicates the head of Health. In fact, the recruitment has run on your account. The Government “does not know whether any payment for defense expenses has already been made, as well as whether or not there is a forecast of the total cost of legal assistance.” However, if they were convicted they would have to take charge of that minute.