Saturday, May 28

The Kitchen plot reveals the PP’s catalog of maneuvers to bring down its biggest corruption case

The National High Court and the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office have been unraveling for almost three years the details of the “parapolice operation” supposedly ordered in 2013 from the nucleus of the Government of Mariano Rajoy to sabotage the judicial investigation that threatened to expose two decades of black money in the Popular Party. The evidence and testimonies contained in the summary indicate that the “set objective” was met, which was none other than to prevent compromising information for the party and its leaders from reaching the Gürtel investigators, the case that ultimately, in 2018, ended up causing his eviction from Moncloa through the motion of censure of Pedro Sánchez.

The National Court investigates a second Kitchen to spy on Bárcenas inside the jail

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This operation, orchestrated by policemen who worked without a court order and supposedly paid for with reserved funds, is the peak of some maneuvers for which all the commanders of the front line of the political brigade that stayed in the Police from 2012 to 2016 are charged. But also some of the top political leaders of the time, such as the former secretary general of the PP, María Dolores de Cospedal; the former Interior Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, and the one who at that time was his number two, Francisco Martínez. Cospedal and her husband, Ignacio López del Hierro, also accused, will testify next week at the National Court.

Within the framework of these investigations, an attempt has emerged to “seize” the evidence that former treasurer Luis Bárcenas had in his power regarding the irregular financing of the party so that they did not reach the Justice. The operation is called Kitchen in reference to the “cook” or “K2”, the nickname with which the agents involved referred to the driver and confidant of Bárcenas and his wife, Rosalía Iglesias. The driver was caught as a mole to steal documents and provide information on the family’s movements. In exchange, he received more than 50,000 euros from the reserved funds and a place in the Police.

The signs that point to the leadership of the PP

Precisely the voluntary statement made by the driver last November – known in recent weeks after lifting the secret on part of the summary – underpins the indications that point to the leadership of the PP. As revealed by, Ríos declared seven months ago his conviction that the party sent him to work with Bárcenas for his subsequent recruitment by the political brigade; While the then head of PP security, Guillermo Barroso, a friend from the Ríos neighborhood, acknowledged to Internal Affairs that it was his decision to recommend him when the former treasurer asked him for someone he trusted.

These statements are added to another 2018 report from this same unit that indicated that Rajoy himself had “knowledge” of the espionage of the ex-treasurer. In addition, the agendas seized last October from Commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, a key figure in the Police’s political brigade, have uncovered new evidence that reinforces suspicions against the former leadership of the PP. Internal Affairs recently incorporated into a report last May the police notes according to which the former president would learn of the offer and threats to Bárcenas in prison not to confess box B.

“Chisco. He says that the MIN spoke with RAJ and everything is OK” and “General talk about LB and Rajoy’s tension, especially the Ministry,” the policeman noted on July 6 and 27, 2013. Internal Affairs agents relate both conversations between Villarejo and Martínez, the number two of the Interior that the agent calls “Chisco”, with the offer that Luis Bárcenas would have received in prison from a lawyer to keep silent about the irregular financing system of the PP and the bonuses of its leaders – made in the name of that Executive – and threats in the event that it does not do so.

The first of these annotations took place two days before the lawyer Javier Iglesias visited the ex-treasurer of the PP in jail. According to Bárcenas’ version, he received from the lawyer “very serious threats” and a “formal offer” that if the then Minister of Justice, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, kept silent, he would be dismissed with the consequences that this could have for the case. “If you speak, your wife will go to prison; if you shut up, Gallardón will fall and the process will be annulled,” Iglesias told Bárcenas, as published The world. The lawyer has always denied this version of the encounter. The last time, in his appearance before the investigation commission on the Kitchen plot of Congress, in which he assured that he visited Bárcenas for his functions as a lawyer for two investigated in the Gürtel case and affirmed that the PP has never hired his services as lawyer.

The second Kitchen

But despite these alleged threats, Bárcenas finally spoke up. He did so on July 15, 2013, when he admitted before the judge of the National Court Pablo Ruz the authorship of the papers that El País had published on January 31 of that year and that collected dozens of entries and exits of opaque money between 1990 and 2008. After denying for almost six months that he was the author of the notes, he confessed, pointed directly to the leadership of the PP and provided a pendrive loaded with documentation. By then, and fearing that the former treasurer would pull the blanket, high-ranking police officers were already plotting the espionage operation against him and his family, which the National Court has been investigating since 2018.

The monitoring of the surroundings of Bárcenas – with reports on the movements of his wife and the people with whom he had contact – lasted until autumn 2013, according to the investigations. On October 23, a habitual criminal, Enrique Olivares, robbed the Bárcenas family home dressed as a priest. The suspicion of the investigators is that he was caught by the police officers who directed the espionage of the former treasurer and charged 10,000 euros for the assault on the house in search of the documentation on the PP. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison for these events.

The investigators are now investigating whether these maneuvers even penetrated the doors of the Soto del Real prison, where Bárcenas was admitted on June 26, 2013. As revealed by this newspaper, the former treasurer detailed to Judge Manuel García Castellón how an inmate who had been given a False prison identity followed him and took notes for a month and a half. In addition, the political brigade contacted in the street with another prisoner to whom Bárcenas had given access to the ‘cloud’ where he supposedly kept a copy of the recording that he had made of Rajoy talking about box B and which he ordered in 2014 to destroy that audio when it came out of permission, according to the documentation that works in the case.

The existence of that recording, which could be the final highlight for the former Prime Minister, is one of the great unknowns of the case. Bárcenas declared that when he got out of jail the audios were no longer in the ‘cloud’, but he insisted to the judge that he had another copy hidden in his wife’s studio that was stolen from him by the political brigade. According to the testimony of the former treasurer, in that conversation, which arose as a result of the outbreak of the Gürtel case, it is heard how he makes a delivery of money to Rajoy, shows him accounting papers and how he, “scared”, reproaches him for keeping that material and destroys it in a paper shredder. The former president denied these facts in his testimony as a witness last March in the trial of box B. “They have not given me any accounting B (…). It is metaphysically impossible, therefore, that I have been able to destroy those papers “he assured in court.

Pressure on police and judges

The Kitchen operation has brought out the PP’s recourse to the state sewers to blow up the investigation into its opaque finances, but they are not the only maneuvers that have come to light. The strategy of the PP in the Gürtel case and its derivatives includes pressure on police officers and the Administration of justice, such as those recently revealed in court by Chief Inspector Manuel Morocho, who made a detailed account of which police officers, high and intermediate , they tried to sabotage their work.

His testimony last week led to the indictment of commissioner José Luis Olivera, former head of the UDEF, whom he accused of becoming a double agent in favor of those investigated by stopping reports or offering him well-paid destinations abroad so that he could depart. Of the investigation. A friend of Villarejo, Olivera currently works for the Royal Spanish Football Federation. Morocho also pointed out to Chief Inspector José Manuel Álvarez Luna, who is still stationed in the Anticorruption Brigade and who, according to his account, would have tried to modify the reports that went to the judge.

The interest of the PP to control the police investigation was translated, when it was in the Government, in continuous dismissals and appointments of related policemen. The most notorious of the dismissals was that of the general commissioner of the Judicial Police, José Losada, in October 2013, for not controlling the investigations of the Gürtel case about former minister Ana Mato and other leaders of the formation.

But the interference to sabotage the Gürtel case practically dates back to its outbreak in 2009. The PP then tried to reduce what would end up being one of the most serious causes of corruption in democracy to the simple misdeeds of a businessman who would have used the training to collect commissions. Under a strategy directed by Federico Trillo, the PP managed to maintain a secret and continuous communication with Judge Antonio Pedreira, instructor of the case in the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid before Bárcenas stopped being measured. This judge even lifted the indictment of the treasurer.

This is not the only maneuver in the field of judicial investigation that has transpired in recent years. The first instructor of box B, Pablo Ruz, could not finish his work because the General Council of the Judiciary decided not to renew his interim position in the National Court. Before, he had made the historic decision to register the headquarters of the PP after refusing the formation to deliver the documentation that it required and had expelled the party from the popular accusation that it had been exercising for perverting that figure and dedicating itself, instead, to surreptitiously defend Bárcenas, the man who kept until 2010 the key to the party box, a box overflowing with black money.