The two policemen who have appeared in the Wednesday morning session of the parliamentary commission that investigates the so-called Operation Kitchen of illegal espionage of the ex-treasurer of the PP Luis Bárcenas by the Ministry of the Interior have coincided in pointing out that there were interferences and overlaps between the surveillance devices that various police units set up in the summer of 2013 in the vicinity of the home of the former Treasurer of the PP. One of them, the police officer Enrique Luis Báez, who until September of that year belonged to the Special Monitoring Area of the Central Operational Support Unit (UCAO), confirmed that for “two or three weeks” he participated in the monitoring that was carried out, firstly, to Sergio Ríos, a former driver from Bárcenas, and later to Rosalía Iglesias, the latter’s wife, and that in, in that short space of time, at least two occasions he detected people who took photographs of him and his companions .
The second agent, Chief Inspector Jesús Vicente Galán, then head of the Follow-up Section in the Internal Affairs Unit, has admitted that he sent agents to the vicinity of the former treasurer’s home and that they detected the presence of other policemen in the area , but he has denied that the operation he led had the objective of monitoring the surroundings of Bárcenas. Both have shielded themselves in their superiors to justify those operations and, in the case of Galán, he has discredited the testimony that one of his subordinates made before the judge of the caso Kitchen, Manuel García-Castellón, in which he had assured that it was he who gave him the order to follow Rosalía Iglesias. Galán was charged for this testimony, but last June the magistrate filed the case against him.
The first to appear was agent Báez, who did so by videoconference. This policeman, currently on leave of absence and assigned to the European border control agency (Frontex), sent two emails to the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor in September 2019 in which he offered to testify about his participation in Operation Kitchen, but the judge García-Castellón ruled it out, considering that he was not going to contribute “anything relevant”. In Congress, it has not provided new information either, according to what several deputies who have spoken in the session agree on.
The agent has affirmed that, during the weeks in which he participated in the operation, he was “very uncomfortable” because he did not understand how he had gone from following suspects of jihadism, the main mission of his unit as he is located in the General Information Commissariat, Responsible for the fight against terrorism, to monitor the environment of the former treasurer. “We were told that [Bárcenas] he was involved in crimes, that he had stolen a lot of money and that a place had to be located ”in which he supposedly hid that money, he explained. Báez has affirmed that his superiors justified the intervention of the UCAO in which the Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit (UDEF, then responsible for investigating Bárcenas within the Gürtel case) he had neither the means nor the personnel to do so. “It seemed like a cheap excuse,” he said.
The policeman has assured that, during his participation in the operation, he detected a woman when he took a photograph of her while he was watching Rosalía Iglesias’ apartment. It was not the only time. Another person, this time a male, photographed him again in a bar in the area. About who this person was, he has assured that he never knew, although he does not rule out that they were agents of another police unit, specifically that of Internal Affairs, sent there to monitor them. After those two incidents, he has detailed that his superiors invited him to leave the unit. Shortly after he left the UCAO.
The second to appear, Chief Inspector Galán, declared as a defendant last January before the judge of the caso Kitchen, but he dismissed the case against him six months later. Galán had been singled out by one of the police officers under his command as the command who instructed him to go to the vicinity of Bárcenas ‘home because Bárcenas’ wife, Rosalía Iglesias, “was in danger.” Before the judge, Galán confirmed that he set up a surveillance device near the home of the former treasurer, but clarified that the objective was supposedly to locate a car unrelated to Bárcenas. For those orders, he blamed the then-boss, Commissioner Marcelino Martín-Blas, accused in the case. Martín-Blas, who has already appeared in the commission, denied that he gave those orders and points to Galán as a man trusted by Commissioner Eugenio Pino, then the chief operative of the Police and a man behind the plot.
This Wednesday, Galán has adhered to the version he gave before the judge of the caso Kitchen. Thus, he has ensured that in the summer of 2013 (he has not been able to specify the date, although the investigation has revealed that it was July 25 of that year, shortly after Operation Kitchen was launched) he received instructions from his superior to will look for “a vehicle [del modelo] C-4 black at the confluence of Hermosilla, Ayala and Díaz Porlier streets [de Madrid]”And to be” careful “because near that area lived Bárcenas. The chief inspector has insisted that “never, never” his subordinates watched Rosalía Iglesias or received orders in that regard.
The police command has detailed that one of the agents who sent to the area alerted him that they had “company”, referring to the fact that there were more police devices in the area. In this sense, he added that his agents verified, through the license plates of the vehicles that these people who were loitering were using, that they could be agents of the fight against terrorism and that he communicated this to the head of Internal Affairs, that they did not gave him no instructions. Despite this, he has stated that he ordered his officials “to get out of there directly.” Galán stressed that the operation only lasted three hours.
The chief inspector added that, already in the fall of 2014, Commissioner Martín Blas ordered him to follow up Commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, identified as one of those involved in the caso Kitchen and that three years later he was arrested as the alleged leader of a parapolice plot that offered confidential information to businessmen. “It was an important surveillance operation, which lasted several months and was very difficult,” he pointed out, since, as he added, Villarejo “did not have a routine schedule”, they mistakenly watched a home that was not their home and controlled the Visits he received in his office in the Torre Picasso in Madrid was impossible. “It was impregnable,” he said about this last place. Galán ended up leaving the Internal Affairs Unit and obtained a post in a Spanish Embassy abroad, that of Mauritania, one of the most coveted positions by agents due to its high economic remuneration. In August 2018, the current minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, removed him from that position.