Jorge Fernández, the former Minister of the Interior for five years of the PP Government of Mariano Rajoy, rejected this Thursday having participated in Operation Kitchen or having had prior information to organize it. He did it in the congressional commission that investigates the plot set up in that ministry to cover up corruption scandals in his party and especially in Gürtel. “If that operation was carried out, it was done without my knowledge,” emphasized the former minister, a political veteran for 10 legislatures and from the circle closest to Rajoy. And he qualified his interpretation of why none of his subordinates or positions of trust in the Interior anticipated anything about it: “Maybe because they knew that I would not have given the green light to one of those things.” Fernández did not clarify who he was referring to in that hint but insisted: “That operation with my consent has not been done.”
Fernández was already one of the main attention centers in another investigation commission organized in Congress in 2017, more generic, on the use of Interior funds and resources for partisan purposes during that stage of the PP governments. The Kitchen Operation now investigated would be the second part of that plot, in this case to hide or destroy evidence that could affect that party again, especially everything related to the Gürtel case and the papers of Luis Bárcenas, the national ex-treasurer of the PP.
The summary of yesterday’s long and tense interrogation of Fernández Díaz would be that the former minister affirms that, as Minister of the Interior, he barely had responsibility in the appointment of the main police positions, which he blamed on his Director General of the Police, Ignacio Cosidó, also leader of the PP. He also denied having ever had direct knowledge of any operational action, and less about those related to corruption schemes that affected his party. That is what Fernández said, before the almost general incredulity of all the parties represented except the PP and Vox itself. Not even the spokesman for Ciudadanos, the State’s attorney Edmundo Bal, could give credit to the fact that a Minister of the Interior “did not know anything about that operation” and grabbed a car of the judge who is leading the investigation of the case in the National Court. , Manuel García Castellón, where he considers this hypothesis “inconceivable”.
This attribution of Bal, based on the judicial resolution, was one of those that most upset Fernández, who dared to question “indignantly” the professional solvency of the State attorney who served for several State governments, also the PP. The former minister tried to devalue the judicial action by indicating that all the parties present in the case had appealed that “judge’s value judgment”, including the Prosecutor’s Office, the PSOE and UP. Bal clarified that the magistrate had expressed his “conviction” and Fernández, a recognized Catholic believer, replied with an elevated tone: “And what, is it the word of God?”
Another of the significant passages of the appearance occurred when the PSOE spokesman, David Serrada, asked the minister for the consideration that he now keeps from his then number two, the former Secretary of State for Security, Francisco Martínez, who is the one who has most implicated him as the visible head of the origin of Operation Kitchen, even with confrontations in court. Serrada asked him specifically about whether he felt betrayed. Fernández endured a few seconds in silence, thought the answer well and blurted out: “Let’s just say that you have deeply disappointed me.”
The former minister clarified to other questions that he never asked his number two or the Deputy Director of Operations of the Police, Eugenio Pino, or any senior official in the department, “obstruct justice” with actions such as those revealed during these years by agents and commanders implicated and prosecuted for following Bárcenas and his surroundings. The PP spokesman, Luis Santamaría, who acknowledged that his questions were directed only at Fernández calmly giving his version of events and countering “the crucifixion commission” that he believes these works have now become, facilitated the ex-minister to abound in that they never told him anything about secret operations. Fernández even acknowledged that one Friday, December 12, 2012, he had a “stupid face” when former President Rajoy called him from a European Council to find out why the Police were searching the headquarters of the PP in Genoa 13 and he had to answer that I was reading it on the teletypes: “They are the game rules of a democratic state.”
Fernández also took advantage of his presentation to distance himself from the controversial retired commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, of whom he only pointed out that he had barely greeted him twice, that he already worked in the Ministry at the highest level and had been with 10 ministers of the PSOE and the PP for 25 years.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.