During his time as minister of Mariano Rajoy, and also afterwards, Jorge Fernández Díaz had several opportunities to admit that he knew former commissioner José Manuel Villarejo and had met with him. The minister, like the apostle Peter to Jesus, denied the policeman up to three times in public, and another time during Kitchen's instruction. "I have never dispatched with Mr. Villarejo"; "I have never decorated him"; "I have barely greeted him twice." The audios that he published this Wednesday The country newspaper show that on all those occasions he lied.
The head of the Interior between 2012 and 2016 met during his first year as minister, at the Interior headquarters, with Villarejo and the then deputy operational director of the Police, Eugenio Pino. Although Fernández Díaz asked on several occasions that the conversation not leave those walls, the former commissioner recorded it and from it it can be extracted that the three orchestrated Operation Catalonia against independence leaders. The recording is part of the large file seized from Villarejo by the Justice, but has not been incorporated into any of the pieces that investigate it within the Tándem case.
The first information that pointed against the maneuvers of the former minister and a group of agents to look for signs of corruption linked to Catalan leaders or members of their entourage, in the midst of the independence boom, are from 2014. The deputies of the extinct Convergència then asked the minister about those news about the 'patriotic police' in parliamentary headquarters, but the minister sent them to the “psychiatrist”. That brigade formed within the Ministry, with funds from the department, also prepared reports on other political opponents of the PP, such as Podemos, as confirmed by the Congressional commission that years later investigated this plot, which is now in court.
That day, however, Fernández Díaz said, from the congressional platform, that "the news about the creation of that secret unit" was "absolutely false." "We are here to talk about serious things. Another thing is that you are in the obsession in which you are and see persecution even in dreams, but that is more typical of the psychiatrist than the Minister of the Interior," added the popular leader.
Shortly after, also in 2014, the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office decided to dismiss the false reports that the Police Economic and Fiscal Crimes Unit (Udef) had prepared on an alleged account in Switzerland of the former mayor of Barcelona Xavier Trias. The minister declared on Radio 4 that that information had come from that unit: "The Police receives information, opens proceedings, makes a report and takes it to the Prosecutor's Office, which decides whether to prosecute or not." But only a few months later, Fernández Díaz spoke with the journalist Jordi Évole on the Salvados program and denied that those reports had come from the Police and that he had anything to do with it.
–“There have been Catalan politicians who claim that you were behind the leaking of those reports to the press” – Évole questions him.
Fernández Díaz stutters and says: “And? From certain Catalan instances I have been accused of almost everything. What can we do".
As time went by, the information that came out in the media about the so-called patriotic police began to point to Villarejo, already involved in cases such as that of little Nicolás, Dr. Pinto or the attic of former Madrid president Ignacio González. As a result of the investigations against him, the former commissioner declared before the judge that he had worked in a kind of brigade in which he was in charge of "investigating crimes of the Pujol family, within a police intelligence unit" and without control. judicial.
The journalists Eva Lamarca and Marta Suárez asked Fernández Díaz in September 2016 about this matter in an interview for Vanity Fair magazine. “What a patriotic police officer,” the minister replies. Look, Commissioner Villarejo, who retires on August 4, I have seen him twice and I have spoken with him for two minutes. On December 15, 2010, he was promoted to commissioner and has been chief inspector and commissioner with 11 interior ministers. And what I am not willing is for it to be said that he has appeared with the PP and with Minister Fernández Díaz”.
Moments later, they remind him that he decorated him with a Police Merit medal with a Red Badge. “I have never decorated him! He has many decorations. If we review his service record we will see, in short, each Ministry and each director general of the Police who has decorated him. Who said that I have decorated Mr. Villarejo? I have never decorated him”, he replies.
“The only thing we have asked him…”, the journalists continue, but the minister interrupts them. “Yes, man, yes, hey, I know very well what I was asked. I mean, have I decorated Villarejo? Because in any case if I have done it I have not found out, that is clear. Then he asks his Director of Communications, next to him during the interview, who confirms it, and rectifies: “I have decorated a multitude of police officers. The DGP sends me the proposal and I sign the resolution. I do not have the need or the duty to meet the 67,000 police officers that exist.
In that interview, Fernández Díaz also answers questions about Operation Catalonia: “Of course there is no Operation Catalonia. What is Operation Catalonia, let's see? What is? No, no, no, excuse me, I can't prove that what doesn't exist doesn't exist. There is neither the patriotic police nor Operation Catalonia”.
In April 2017, already outside the Ministry of the Interior, Fernández Díaz went to an investigation commission in the Congress of Deputies about the alleged partisan use of his department. In it he answers the questions of the parliamentary groups and specifically those of the spokesman for the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) Mikel Legarda Uriarte. The former minister replies: “I am going to tell you one thing clearly in parliament, in a commission of inquiry. During the almost five years in which I have exercised the responsibility of Minister of the Interior, I have never dispatched anything with Mr. Villarejo”.
Legarda insists in his questions that "numerous police actions" ended in "complaints, accusations and annulment of evidence." In these operations within the Catalonia Case, the deputy tells him, "the same cast of police officers always appears: Eugenio Pino, Bonifacio Díez, Martín Blas, Villarejo, Olivera, Fuentes Gago." "I don't even know what face they have. In the Police there are almost 70,000 people working and we are going to add 80,000 in the Civil Guard. I already know that the minister is not going to dispatch with everyone, but there are a lot of people and there is a chain of command,” Fernández Díaz responds.
After his departure from the Ministry, Fernández Díaz published in 2019 some memoirs under the name 'Every day has its eagerness'. In them, he barely dedicates a few lines to the political police: “Pretending that the Minister of the Interior –me or any other– can command justice and order the police to carry out investigations of one type and paralyze others is to have an aberrant conception of the State and of the Government. It is seriously worrying that they might believe that.”
Already removed from politics, the former minister had to testify at the National High Court as a defendant in the case instructed by Judge Manuel García-Castellón on espionage on Bárcenas, the Kitchen case. Before the judge, in October 2020, Fernández Díaz again denied Villarejo – at that time imprisoned since 2017. He said that he had only seen him twice, one in 2012, in the office of his then cabinet director, Francisco Martínez ; and another in 2016, at the farewell meal of the deputy operational director of the Police, Eugenio Pino.
García-Castellón closed this case last summer, against the opinion of the accusations, of some of the defenses and especially of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office. The magistrate proposed to bring to trial, in addition to Fernández Díaz, Martínez and all the commanders that made up the first line of the PP political brigade, with Commissioner Eugenio Pino, deputy director of operations, at the head. He left out former president Mariano Rajoy whom he did not even call to testify.
The former minister appealed that closure precisely for understanding that the real people responsible for the Kitchen operation were those who formed the leadership of the PP. "It is clear that the origin of the Kitchen operation was not related to or affected the Ministry of the Interior. And it is obvious that Mr. Bárcenas was the Treasurer of the Popular Party, not the Ministry of the Interior," he said in his brief.
The former Minister of the Interior went through a parliamentary commission again recently and in that appearance he had a new opportunity to recognize if he met with Villarejo and in that case if he prepared Operation Catalonia with him. It was in December 2021, in one of the last sessions of the Kitchen commission in the Lower House.
Fernández Díaz said in that commission that if he defended Villarejo when the enormous wealth that the former commissioner had accumulated for decades was published, part of it in tax havens, it was because he requested a report and the "General Directorate of the Police" informed him of the important services against the fight counterterrorism and organized crime that the police had provided in the past.
During the almost three hours that the appearance lasted, perhaps the most emphatic and, in light of the audios published today, the most surprising statements, he made them in response to a deputy from his party, Luis Santamaría Ruiz, who asked him: "You said that he did not know Villarejo, that he never spoke with him on the phone, that he never spoke with him (...). Is it ratified?
"Absolutely," replies the former minister, who adds: "I'm going to give you some information, because I've had the opportunity to refresh my memory." From there, Fernández Díaz details the two occasions "in five years at the head of the Ministry of the Interior" in which, according to him, he coincided with Villarejo.
The first was, he says, in June 2016: "Acts in the Police in which you greet the uniformed men, and I remember perfectly, Mr. Villarejo tells me: Mr. Minister, Commissioner Villarejo." These statements differ slightly from those he made at the National High Court a year earlier. For the second occasion he does not provide a date, although from the statement before García-Castellón it is understood that he was referring to 2012: "I was with my then director of the cabinet in his office."
But then Fernández Díaz refers to the fact that "apparently the commissioner recorded everyone". And he advances: "Why do I dare to say that you will not hear any recording of me with Mr. Villarejo? Because there could not be, because he has never dispatched nor have we been talking more than on those two occasions." And finally, he insists: "When I have seen in the newspapers that I have dispatched, that is a lie, I say it clearly, it is a lie. It does not match the truth." Deputy Santamaría thanks him for his words and "clarity" and tells him that his intention is to make it "clearly clear, without interpretation," that Fernández Díaz "answers what he is answering."
The validity of these words has been extended by just over six months. Faced with Fernández Díaz's forecasts, this Wednesday both the members of Congress who were in that room and all public opinion have been able to listen to a recording by Villarejo of the meeting in which both did send. It was a meeting on December 16, 2012 in the minister's office, lasting about 15 minutes, in which he and members of the Pino y Villarejo political brigade agreed to present a series of complaints to the courts against pro-independence leaders. Among those leaders were former Catalan presidents Jordi Pujol and Artur Mas.