To the municipality of Castro Urdiales (Cantabria) it became known as the Marbella of the North by the urban scandals that led to an excessive construction and full of illegalities. Currently, it has 53,000 inhabitants, which represents a growth of 90% in the last 10 years. Last week, thirteen years after a first complaint by occupation of roads and rustic lands to which others have joined, one of the most anticipated urban corruption trials, that of La Loma, was initiated. There were 45 defendants among mayors, councilors, technicians and promoters for whom the Prosecutor's Office requested more than 200 years in prison for crimes of prevarication, bribery, falsehood in public and documentary documents, embezzlement of public funds, infidelity in the custody of public documents and fraud. The Provincial Court of Cantabria ratified the one written in April 2015.
But an unexpected turn in the opinion of the prosecutor responsible for the Environment, Pilar Santamaría, the same day that the trial began has reduced the defendants to six. The prosecutor maintains that there are new elements to ponder, after one of the defense lawyers asked for a postponement that day to reach an agreement. The cause, which was taught between 2008 and 2012, consists of 90 volumes and more than 60,000 pages. Judicial sources assure THE COUNTRY that it is an "unprecedented" action, because facts are changed without the trial having been held in an instruction and to which the Provincial Court approved. In addition, the new document omits crimes for which it ceases to be accused as the embezzlement of public funds for 9.6 million euros that the City Council did not receive from developers for urban development.
La Loma is an area of about 300,000 hectares in which the City Council allowed to build without water, or any basic infrastructure, guaranteed in roads or public facilities. 168 villas and a school rose.
The writing was known today in which the Prosecutor's Office argues his unexpected turn. Regarding water, "the main problem of the residents", the new provisional qualification document affirms that the City Council offered alternatives to solve their fault, but they were "erratic" and the planning instruments that were adopted "were not accompanied by the weather". That said, he believes that, once again verifying the data and the appearance of "new weighting elements, they conclude that the concrete initiatives" referred to SNUP 3, (the only sector that was built), "were adopted by those responsible municipal without any reliable evidence of its manifest illegality. " However, the previous letter from the prosecutor maintained that favorable reports were issued from the City Council, although "there was a lack of water supply infrastructure."
The news of the change of the modifications has fallen like a bomb on the Neighborhood Board of Santullán, a hamlet of 800 people, who denounced in 2006 that roads and rustic lands of their property were being occupied. Yolanda Merino, her lawyer, doubts that they will continue: "I don't know if we are going to be able to assume a defense of what are the general interests of a municipality."
The rest of the private accusations, neighbors who had denounced when they were considered scammed, have abandoned the cause. The Prosecutor now explains in this regard that "the existence of deception in the purchasers of homes can be ruled out" by recent statements by their lawyers. But the prosecutor's first brief stated that "the buyers acquired and paid for the homes in the confidence that they had all the necessary services."
The lawyer Merino remembers the time and work they have dedicated to this procedure. "It is denounced in 2006, the instruction does not start until 2008 and ends in 2012. From then on everything has been a game of delays and paralyzes. From 2015 to 2019 we were pending to indicate the trial and when it is done, this happens to last minute, "he says.
Prosecutor Pilar Santamaría requests in her new brief four years in prison to former mayor Rufino Díaz Helguera for a bribery offense and Fernando Muguruza, also an ex-governor, two years for urban planning. The architect Pedro Restegui faces a four-year sentence for a continuing crime of bribery and a fine of 1.8 million. Valentín Galdós, also an architect, faces the request for five years in prison. Yolanda Sánchez Sebastián also asks for four years and 442,336 euros and for former secretary César Sáiz, he requests three years for documentary falsity and four years for a continuing crime of bribery and one million euros. The private accusations and the rest of those involved in the trial have five business days from October 9 to submit allegations to the indictment. The defenses will have another term of five days, after which, the date will be marked to resume the trial.
The lawyer representing the Neighborhood Board of Santullán, the only private prosecution that still holds in the trial, Yolanda Merino, recalls the efforts that have been devoted to this procedure. “It is denounced in 2006, the instruction does not start until 2008 and ends in 2012. From there everything has been a game of delays and paralyzes. From 2015 to 2019 we were awaiting trial and when it is done, this happens at the last minute, "he says. Yolanda explains that a very dangerous precedent is set because in Cantabria there are 400 homes pending demolition due to irregularities in the plans." If you do not know prosecute those who also carry an alleged crime behind, what will happen is that it will be very easy to skip the law when they want the municipalities, technicians or builder on duty. Here there were false plans and documents, "he adds. A lawyer recalls that urban and environmental law is governed by European directives that must be complied with and that transcend state regulations.
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