Luis Bárcenas (pictured), who was treasurer until 2009 – and who spent 19 months in custody at the beginning of the Gürtel investigations – along with former regional minister from Madrid, Alberto López Viejo and ex-mayor of Majadahonda (Madrid region), Guillermo Ortega are all now behind bars following a five-hour hearing at the National Court today.
The criminal section of the court said sending them straight to jail – even though the sentence is open to appeal – was justified, given the number of years they will have to serve and the sophisticated and long-running financial and business network and organisation dedicated to making off-the-books cash running into millions.
Despite Bárcenas’ release after his 19-month spell in Madrid’s Soto del Real prison based upon his defence persuading a judge he was not a flight risk, it has now been decided he may abscond, given that part of the huge amount of funds he held – up to €48.2 million in Swiss bank accounts – has never been located.
He will go back to Soto del Real along with López Viejo and Ortega, and their fellow inmates include Catalunya politicians Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart – leaders of the Catalunya National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural respectively – and former FC Barcelona chairman Sandro Rosell.
Another eight could go straight to jail on Wednesday after a further hearing in the National Court, including Bárcenas’ wife Rosalía Iglesias, sentenced to 15 years, just under half of that of her husband.
Ringleader and tycoon Francisco Correa, sentenced to 51 years, could follow, along with his wife.
Ex-councillor in Estepona (Málaga province) Ricardo Galeote, former accountant for the Gürtel racket José Luis Izquierdo, Correa’s ‘man Friday’, Antonio Villaverde, ex-councillor in Majadahonda Juan José Moreno, former deputy minister for the region of Madrid Carlos Clemente Aguado, and ex-mayor of Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid), Jesús Sepúlveda – who is also ex-husband of former health minister Ana Mato – may be behind bars by Wednesday night.
Four others have been ordered to report regularly to the court and have had their passports withdrawn – ex-MP for the PP Jesús Merino, López Viejo’s wife Teresa Gabarra, Bárcenas’ ‘man Friday’ Iván Yáñez, and López Viejo’s accountant and legal advisor Pedro Rodríguez Pendás.
Bárcenas has been jailed for 33 years, Ortega for 38 and López Viejo for 31, although the maximum custodial term anyone can serve in Spain is 30 years and it is likely they will be released a few years before this for good behaviour.
All those involved have appealed to the Supreme Court against their sentences, which is the highest contentious court in Spain.
They will have no further recourse nationally unless they decide to show their rights under the Spanish Magna Carta have been breached, which is an issue for the Constitutional Court, whose role is limited to an interpretation of the text governing the country.
After this, they would have to appeal to the European courts.
Three key Gürtel figures are already in jail in Valdemoro (Madrid region) – Correa’s fellow ringleaders Pablo Crespo and Álvaro Pérez, known as ‘El Bigotes’, who is serving 13 and 12 years respectively for corruption linked to Valencia stand at the international tourism fair, FITUR, held in Madrid every January, whilst ex-minister in Valencia, Isabel Jordán, went to jail this week.
In addition to the custodial terms for the Valencia-linked side of the Gürtel case, Crespo – former secretary for the organisation for the PP in the region of Galicia – has been jailed for a further 37-and-a-half years, although ‘El Bigotes’ has been acquitted from any further charges.