The charges made against the mayor of Orihuela, Emilio Bascuñana, are a fact, contrary to what his colleague Rafael Almagro maintains, and the investigation process for a crime of embezzlement is well advanced, and not just starting out, contrary to a statement made by Juan Francisco Pérez Llorca, general coordinator of the Partido Popular in the province, who also states that he is confident that the mayor is completely innocent.
In fact some witnesses have already appeared. Among them, the territorial director of Health from November 2008 to 2015, José Ángel Sánchez Navajas, who said that as soon as he took office, he told Bascuñana that he did not need him, telling him to return to his position as a family doctor.
The investigation centres around a charge of embezzlement, and whether the current mayor of Orihuela collected a public salary without doing any work for a period of around four years and for which he pocketed, in total, more than 202,000 euros .
It began at the end of 2019 with the delegated prosecutors unable to find evidence that Bascuñana was carrying out any tasks, despite the fact that he was receiving payment.
Moreover, the Spanish Newspaper, Diario Informacion, reports that before the charge against the mayor was formalised in the senior court of Orihuela, he was urged to present evidence of the work he had carried out, which could have led to the case being closed, but he has yet failed to contribute anything.
Bascuñana was assigned to the territorial directorate of Health in Alicante in October 2007, in a role that he filled until 2013, even though it was not extended beyond 2008. During the period from 2009, however, he was not allocated to any office and neither is there evidence of any work being carried out.
In a statement made on Wednesday, the Orihuela mayor, Emilio Bascuñana, completely refuted the allegations made against him, and in so doing put paid to any talk there may have been regarding his resignation.
He said that “they are nothing new,” and that he is “a good man, who has worked as a doctor for more than 30 years.”
“The investigation is based on fallacies and they are an absolute lie. I have no doubts that it will all end by clearing my name.”
He said that his tasks were those of “advice, collaboration, coordination and support”, that he did not have an office because he was either out on the road, “covering the entire province” or he teleworked, and neither are there any reports that corroborate his activities, “because they were not necessary.”
However, there was no announcement nor appearance before the media, with the statement surfacing solely on his private Facebook and Twitter profiles.
One person who has been very quiet during the whole process is the Leader of Ciudadanos, the party that is propping up the Partido Popular in Orihuela’s coalition Government. Deputy Mayor Jose Aix said “We need to be very calm, but if the allegations are true it would be very bad for the municipality, and we would ask that the mayor takes responsibility.”
Back in November 2019, however, according to his own party website, Aix said that Ciudadanos “will do whatever is necessary when a judge confirms that Bascuñana is charged, not before. The Municipal Group will adopt the necessary measures and demand the appropriate action be taken in accordance with the provisions of its ethical code”.
Well Mr Aix, the mayor has now been charged, of which you are fully aware, but we still wait to see the C’s response, and exactly what the provisions of your ethical code might be!
The general secretary of the PSPV-PSOE of the province of Alicante, José Chulvi, has meanwhile demanded that the president of the Diputación and president of the PP in the province, Carlos Mazón, takes ‘immediate’ measures.
He says that “Mazón is rewarding corruption,” maintaining that his inaction is embarrassing and insulting towards all the people of Alicante, whose money has paid Bascuñana’s salary without him lifting a finger. He said that this is just one more example of how the PP turns a blind eye to corruption.