"It has nothing to do with the creation of the mechanism"

The criminal chamber of the Supreme Court listens from early in the morning to the arguments of those convicted in the case of the ERE of Andalusia against the convictions issued by the Provincial Court of Seville. One of the first to speak was José María Calero, lawyer for one of the main convicts: José Antonio Griñán, president of the Junta de Andalucía for the PSOE between 2009 and 2013 and sentenced in this case to six years in prison, so in this hearing his future entry into prison to serve his sentence is at stake.

Defendants in the ERE maintain that there is no embezzlement if the early retirements are legal

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The case of the ERE investigated and sentenced an illegal system within the Junta de Andalucía to grant, in total, 679 million euros in aid without control between the years 2000 and 2009. Griñán's lawyer has defended that he "comes to the Junta de Andalucía in April 2004”, when he joined the Andalusian executive as Minister of Economy. That implies, as his defense has said today to the Supreme Court's criminal chamber, that he was not there when the alleged fraudulent system was launched.

“It has nothing to do with the facts that are narrated in the core of this piece, the creation and implementation of a supposed system of subsidies. It has nothing to do with the creation of that mechanism,” said the lawyer. When Griñán becomes part of the Andalusian executive from the Parliament, says his lawyer, he comes across several budget laws that have given strength to the court system.

The lawyer has referred to Griñán's relationship with the core of the sentence: budget item 31L, called at the time by one of the defendants as a 'reptile fund', intended to pay social aid to companies. “It is not described that José Antonio Griñán was in charge of item 31L, never, never”, he said. There is also no evidence to show that he could dispose of those funds: "He who in no case can decide on the destination of the funds cannot embezzle."

Finally, he has reproached the sentence of the Court of Seville that he is condemned "for eliminating the controls" on these budget items but, also, "for ignoring those controls, which is supposed to exist".

“We are facing a colossal conjecture”

The Supreme Court, with Eduardo de Porres as rapporteur, plans to hear the defenses of the 19 convicted in the ERE case in the next 48 hours, together with a Prosecutor's Office that will request confirmation of the sentences imposed by the Provincial Court of Seville. Convictions that, in some cases, are close to eight years in prison for crimes of prevarication and embezzlement of public funds.

"We are facing a colossal and continuing conjecture," said the defense attorney for José Antonio Viera, an Employment Counselor sentenced to seven years in prison. His lawyer understands, as he has said in the Supreme Court this Wednesday, that the sentence of the Seville Court includes "badly spun and repeated speculations", considering that it is a text "very deficient from a technical point of view".

The first to intervene was Antonio Fernández's lawyer, an Employment Counselor sentenced to the highest sentence of 7 years and 11 months in prison. He understands that the Sevillian court declared proven an "unbelievable organized plan" to divert 679 million euros over almost a decade within the Andalusian Government. "No one can defend themselves against acts like this," the lawyer reproached, later defending that on a "significant" number of occasions the use of money "does not lack just cause." "The destination was not the one established, but it was public," added the defense attorney for Juan Márquez, general director of Labor sentenced to seven years in prison.

"The sentence is far from reality", has also reproached the deputy counselor's defense lawyer Carmen Martinez Aguayo. The sentence, said this lawyer, "wants to condemn the members of the Treasury at all costs", he said about the role of the Andalusian ministry where most of the accusation of the Seville Court falls.

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