The controversial past of Emilio Bascuñana, the PP mayor of Orihuela, could be about to end his political career, after Alicante’s chief prosecutor, Jorge Rabasa, said on Tuesday that the Oriolan politician has committed a crime of misappropriation after charging the Department of Health for his services as an advisor for 6 years without doing the job.
After evaluating the report submitted during an internal investigation, including the questioning of Bascuñana himself, the investigating prosecutor has said that he considers that the facts constitute a criminal offense.
He has now referred his conclusions to the Orihuela Prosecutor’s Office for them to take further action, which will either end in a complaint being put before the court or the case being shelved.
The Department of Health sent the Prosecutors Office their internal report on the working life of Emilio Bascuñana between the years 2007 and 2013 during the time that he acted as an advisor to the Ministry in Alicante. The report alleges that the mayor spent 6 years as an advisor to the Authority but, despite drawing a salary, never did any work. For all those years there are no records of him taking any holidays or days off and there was no health official aware of him doing any work.
The investigating prosecutor said he considers the facts to constitute a criminal offense.
The mayor himself categorically denies the accusation saying that it is a smokescreen put up by the opposition PSOE Group with the intention of deflecting attention from the ERE corruption case in Andalusia, where the party have governed for almost 40 years and which involves public money from a €680-million unemployment fund.
He says that he has issued full explanations to both the Ministry of Health and to the public and he cannot understand why they are continuing to push the case. He adds that he is the subject of ‘political persecution’ and that he did everything that he was requested to do during the years in question, including advisory tasks and acting as a locum to cover the sick leave of other doctors.
But both the PSOE and Cambiemos Orihuela were quick to publicly request the resignation of the mayor. The spokeswoman for the municipal socialist group, Carolina Gracia, said that there has been a change in the situation in that “the proceedings have now become criminal and are no longer purely civil.” That is why they demand “that Bascuñana has the dignity to resign.”
Meanwhile the leader of coalition partners Ciudadanos, José Aix, who is also the deputy mayor, said that he has no record of any developments in the process opened against the mayor of Orihuela. “We only know from third parties that the Prosecutor’s Office is going refer the charges,” he said, adding that “if a formal complaint is submitted to the Court and proceedings are opened, we will take whatever decision is appropriate at the time”.
He also responded to PSOE saying that “they are not in a position to pontificate, especially in view of the ERE ruling in Andalusia where their party officials are caught up in the biggest fraud case in the history of Spain.”