So intense has been the judicial activity of companies, real estate and associations against the Government of Ada Colau that they have ended up repeating complaints. This is what has happened in the latest case that affects the mayor of Barcelona, who this Friday declared that she had been investigated before a judge for the subsidies that the council granted to social entities such as the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (PAH). Not only does Colau’s defense say it. The Prosecutor’s Office sees the latest complaint against the mayor as identical to the complaint that the Public Ministry already filed last year.
The Court of Auditors archives Agbar’s complaint against Colau for the attempt to municipalize water
The observation is not minor. The Prosecutor’s Office spent four months investigating the City Council’s subsidies to the PAH and other social entities such as the DESC Observatory or the Alliance against Energy Poverty (APE) following a complaint by the Catalan Lawyers for the Constitution association. He analyzed abundant documentation and studied in detail the municipal files. The conclusion of the Public Ministry was that, at most, the subsidies could constitute a minor administrative infraction, but in no case did they go beyond the line of the Penal Code.
After analyzing the new complaint for the same subsidies, now filed by the Association for Transparency and Democratic Quality (ATCD), the Prosecutor’s Office considers that the facts included in it are “99.9%” identical to the complaint of Catalan Lawyers for the Constitution that ended up filed, according to tax sources this Friday. The role of the Public Ministry in the future of the investigation will depend on that tiny percentage, although Colau’s defense trusts that the new case for the subsidies will end the same as the previous one: archived sooner rather than later.
The position of the Prosecutor’s Office, which has carried the weight of the interrogation of Colau, is relevant not only because of its previous knowledge of the subsidies, but also because this Friday’s was practically its first intervention in the judicial case. The judge did not ask the Public Ministry for an opinion before citing Colau as investigated and agreed to charge her directly at the request of the ATCD, an opaque entity with no known activity in Barceona beyond litigating against the consistory. The magistrate has not asked the mayor during the interrogation.
In this Friday’s session, the anti-corruption prosecutor has contributed several memory sticks to the case with the information from the subsidy files that he required when he investigated the first complaint, which he filed after concluding that the fact that Colau did not abstain in the commissions of government that approved the subsidies could be an administrative infraction, but not a crime of prevarication or embezzlement.
Two complaints, same office
There is also the circumstance that the complaint of the ATCD against Colau was signed by Cristina Pasquau, partner in the law firm of the lawyer Ernesto Osuna, who was the one who initialed the first complaint before the Catalan Lawyers’ Prosecutor’s Office for the Constitution. Both work in the same law firm in Granada, a circumstance that the mayor’s defense and political environment sees as anything but a coincidence.
The law allows any individual to sue before a court even if the Prosecutor’s Office has filed his previous complaint. However, Colau’s defense sees “procedural bad faith” in the fact that the entity did not provide the prosecutor’s filing decree to the lawsuit. He understands the defense of the mayor, which is exercised by the lawyers Olga Tubau and Àlex Solà, that the ATCD tried to present to the judge as new some facts that the Prosecutor’s Office had already studied and exonerated.
Within the interrogation room of the City of Justice, Colau has defended the legality of the aid and has denied having influenced its granting or having had a personal interest in its being granted to the PAH and the rest of the entities social. And he has recalled, just as the prosecutor did when filing his proceedings, that the PAH already received subsidies from the City Council under the mandate of the convergent Xavier Trias.
The allegations made by the mayor before the judge have included even the only reproach made by the Prosecutor’s Office: after the file decree in which the Public Ministry pointed out its duty to abstain from the government commissions that approved the subsidies, Colau has explained to the judge who made a query to the general secretary of the City Council, the highest legal authority of the consistory, who told him that it was not necessary for him to step aside.
The future of the case
At the legal level, the defense will request the file of the case again, although it will not formalize the request immediately but will let the case rest for a few weeks so that the judge can analyze the dozen technical reports of the municipal intervention provided by the defense, as well as the entire file of the Prosecutor’s investigation.
Who does want to give more impetus to the investigation is the ACDT, which has already asked the judge to testify as witnesses or investigated several councilors and ex-ediles of the Colau team and plans to request new proceedings from the instructor. If the judge accepts it, the entity would manage to keep the case open for months and the judicial, political and media focus on the mayor.
When the complaint against the mayor became known, a leader of the platform assured elDiario.es that the ACDT would convene the media this Friday in court, but this has not been the case and the entity has still not presented a known spokesperson to society. In a note sent to the media, the entity has shown its “disappointment” at the mayor’s decision to “waste” the opportunity to explain herself by refusing to answer questions from her lawyers. It should be remembered that Colau, as an investigator, has the right to answer the questions of the parties that she wishes, and she has done so to the prosecutor and his defense, but not to the ATCD.
Both the defense and the mayor have transmitted optimism this Friday after a judicial appointment that the opposition had taken advantage of to charge against Colau. A little over a year before the municipal elections, Colau has been forceful in emphasizing that no complaint – his government teams have already accumulated a dozen by hoteliers and multinationals and all of them have ended up filed – will make his pulse tremble. “Not only do they not scare us, but they reaffirm us more than ever in what we have come to do at Barcelona City Council: defend the common good and the interests of citizens and curb privilege and speculation”, he asserted.
“I am very calm and very happy to have answered the questions they have asked me, to collaborate with the Justice and to verify that there is no case,” Colau added. She has reasons for it.