Congress ratifies that Rajoy was politically responsible for ‘Operation Kitchen’ | Spain

Former President Mariano Rajoy, on December 13 at the beginning of his appearance before the investigation commission of the 'Kitchen case'.
Former President Mariano Rajoy, on December 13 at the beginning of his appearance before the investigation commission of the ‘Kitchen case’.Alejandro Martinez Velez (Europa Press)

The plenary session of Congress has ratified this Thursday by a large majority the opinion of the investigation commission that points to the former President of the Government and leader of the PP Mariano Rajoy and his number two in the party, the former minister María Dolores de Cospedal, as the highest “political” responsible for the so-called Operation Kitchen, the illegal espionage of former treasurer Luis Bárcenas during the time of Jorge Fernández Díaz at the head of the Ministry of the Interior. Regarding Rajoy, the document adds that he was “objectively one of the main beneficiaries” of the possible success of the vigilante plot “as possible responsible for its irregular financing [de su partido] and the perception of bonuses of irregular origin”.

During this Thursday’s process, an amendment agreed by the PNV and PSOE has been admitted that, although it practically maintained the conclusions of the text approved in the commission, qualified four of them and lowered, for example, the value of the testimony of the retired commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, who now calls “too porous”. The document has also included as a novelty a reference to the “damage of difficult or impossible repair for the credit and prestige” of the National Police that has caused the plot that is still being investigated in the National Court.

The final result of the vote has brought no surprises. It was approved with the support of the PSOE, United We Can, EH Bildu, ERC, Citizens and PNV, among others (195 votes, more than those obtained when the commission voted for its submission to the plenary session), compared to 91 against of PP and Foro Asturias, and the 63 abstentions, including those of Vox. The debate was rough at times, with cross-references between parties to cases of corruption. Except for the PP and Foro Asturias, which coincided in accusing the rest of the parties of turning the commission into a “summary trial” for the popular parties, most of the groups coincided in emphasizing the seriousness of the known facts.

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The document finally approved concludes that “the leadership of the PP ordered that the troops, means and resources of the Ministry of the Interior be used to monitor and find the evidence that was in the possession of the former treasurer Luis Bárcenas and that they blamed the Popular Party on irregular financing and cases of corruption during the years in which they governed”. The opinion affects that the operation was directed from three places. The first, the headquarters of the PP, “with the knowledge” of Cospedal, who “informed” Rajoy. The second, the Ministry of the Interior, where Fernández Díaz “entrusted the Secretary of State for Security, Francisco Martínez, with the implementation of the entire criminal operation.” And a third with “epicenter” in the Deputy Directorate of Operations (DAO) of the National Police, which was headed by Commissioner Eugenio Pino.

“The purpose of Operation Kitchen —concludes the text— was to obstruct ongoing judicial investigations and to destroy or hide evidence that might be in the possession of Luis Bárcenas so that it would never be used by the administration of justice, and even , of the members of the body that acted as judicial police. And for this purpose of exclusive private interest of the Popular Party, reserved funds and police officers were allegedly used, ”he adds. In the addition that has been made in this last procedure, the text affects Rajoy as “a creditor of political responsibility in watching [expresión latina empleada en derecho para señalar la responsabilidad de vigilar] or vicarious liability [por negligencia] for the serious events that took place in the Ministry of the Interior of his Government”.

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Despite the wide support for the opinion, some groups that have voted in favor have criticized the final text, considering that it had shortcomings. Specifically, that the Government not be urged to undertake legal reforms to prevent similar events from occurring again. EH Bildu deputy Jon Iñarritu has demanded changes in the rules that govern the use of reserved funds after verifying that they were used to finance the plot. “Now what do we do to dismantle the sewers [del Estado] and all that network of pipes that has been in operation for decades?”, he asked after recalling that Operation Kitchen was not the first case of irregular practices in the Interior nor, he predicted, will it be the last. Along the same lines, the ERC deputy Pilar Vallugera questioned “how many Villarejo there are now in the police”, to end by admitting that the affirmative vote of her group, despite the shortcomings of the text, was almost inevitable “because if not, at In the end, we would be left with no conclusions.”

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Ismael Cortés, from Unidad Podemos —a member of the Government, but who did not participate with the PSOE in the preparation of the final document— regretted that the resolution proposal that his group presented together with other leftist parties, and which also included the need to adopt measures, was not approved. The Ciudadanos spokesman, Edmundo Bal, has launched a proposal to reach a state pact “not to tolerate corruption.”

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The socialist representative, Felipe Sicilia, the last to intervene, has defended the final text and, in particular, the explicit references to the political responsibility of Rajoy and Cospedal. Sicilia has insisted that it was not credible that Minister Fernández Díaz had supposedly made the decision to launch the illegal espionage on Bárcenas without receiving an order from a superior. “That was the Prime Minister,” he added.

The socialist spokesman has recalled the two court decisions that have confirmed the existence of a box b in the PP —and whose existence Rajoy denied during his appearance before the commission, as denounced by the approved opinion— and has framed Operation Kitchen as one more sequel of the corruption of the popular: “It was a corrupt plot to try to cover up another corrupt plot,” he said in reference to the attempt by the police to steal incriminating documents that would serve the judicial investigation that was then being carried out in the Gurtel case.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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