- Prevarication, fraud, bribery, influence peddling, extortion, coercion, illegal association, use of privileged information and electoral crime, just some of the charges brought against the 34 defendants in the Brugal case.
One of the most high profile corruption cases to be heard in Spain in recent years, the multi million euro Brugal Case, which has earned notoriety around the world, has ended in uproar in Elche last week after all 34 suspects were acquitted after more than a decade of police investigations and court hearings.
The judge in the case ruled that much of the evidence used to prosecute the defendants was inadmissible, which included two former Partido Popular mayors of Orihuela, José Manuel Medina and Mónica Lorente, along with the local businessman Ángel Fenoll.
All 34 people were accused of business corruption surrounding the multi million euro Orihuela refuse contract.
The investigation began in 2006 surrounding the possible fixing of the local waste collection and disposal contract during the term of the PP mayor José Manuel Medina.
The original case then led to several further enquiries which culminated in the largest ever corruption probe in the Alicante province.
Of the 34 people who were tried, 15 were public officials including the former mayors Medina and Lorente and seven former councillors of the Orihuela Corporation.
It was alleged that Fenoll attempted to bribe politicians by threatening to reveal recordings of telephone conversations he had with them relating the multi million euro waste contract, however the judge ruled that the recordings were inadmissible as they were obtained unlawfully by eavesdropping and other illegal means.
Once this decision had been made it was felt that the remaining evidence was not enough to secure a conviction.
Thus, and after more than ten months of trial held between February and December 2019, all the accused were acquitted by the Seventh Section of the Alicante Provincial Court, based in Elche. This was detailed in a 391-page sentence released on Wednesday.
The former mayor of Orihuela, José Manuel Medina, expressed his satisfaction with the resolution of the trial saying “All is well that ends well. I was waiting to be discharged, because I have had 17 trials and 16 acquittals. There has been persecution by the Prosecutor’s Office”.
Lorente said: “It was what I expected, from the very first day I trusted in justice and I come to the court today with the same feeling knowing that I have done nothing wrong.”
The deputy of Esquerra Unida and deputy spokesperson of the Parliamentary Group of Unides Podem in the Valencian Corts, Estefania Blanes, was disgusted with the outcome of the trial saying “the acquittal of those accused is frustrating to us all. The worst thing is that, instead of seeing how crimes against natural heritage and public resources should be punished, we are once again experiencing a feeling that these alleged criminals enjoy an impunity that drives us all to despair.”
The prosecution is currently considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.