Mon. Apr 22nd, 2019

Miguel Ángel Gimeno, the vigilante against corruption

Miguel Ángel Gimeno, el vigilante contra la corrupción



If it is lost, a Miguel Ángel Gimeno (Binéfar, 1950) will have to be looked for in the Benasque Valley; if it's in summer, with mountain boots, and in winter, with snowshoes, which is the substitute that has found the practice of ski
Alpine, to avoid queues on the chairlift and to reduce the risk of injury.

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Born in the fringe, in the lower part of the Pyrenees of Huesca, the mountain is an escape valve for those who served as magistrate for more than thirty years and presided over the Superior Court of
Justícia de Catalunya (2010-2015), and since 2016 directs the Antifrau Office, an entity that is responsible for preventing and detecting possible cases of corruption in the public administrations de Catalunya and that was a pioneer in the State, a decade ago.






He spent his childhood and youth halfway between Huesca and Lleida

Gimeno took charge of this body dependent on the Parlament after the fulminating dismissal of the previous director, following some conversations in which supposedly maneuvered with the then Minister of the Interior against the sovereignty process. Since taking office, he placed among his main objectives to recover the confidence of the Catalans in the institution. "We passed accounts and today the Office once again has the respect of citizens. The proof is that we received more complaints than ever, last year they were more than 200 and this year we have already 80, "he explains.

He spent his childhood and youth halfway between Huesca and Lleida, between Spanish at home and Catalan on the street. At 17 he was already a teacher and worked a year in a school in Lleida but was attracted to argumentative debates. He asked for a scholarship to study the upper baccalaureate and study law and gave it to a Dominican school in Córdoba, where he spent an internal year, he explains.


He likes opera, pop and rock and attends a literary gathering with a group in which most are jurists






"On the way back I went to Barcelona, ​​which for me was freedom, and I lived in a student apartment," he laughs. It was 1970. In the Faculty of Law he actively participated in the student movements against the Franco regime and when he finished his career he worked as a labor lawyer in the office of Xavier Fina and Montserrat Avilés, the epicenter of the city's popular struggles, which advised the corporate committees of large firms, such as Seat, Olivetti or textiles.

In those years, there was a movement of lawyers, from progressive offices to the judiciary, for the fourth shift or opposition, thinking that they would have more opportunities to protect labor rights. Gimeno admits that he could be included in that group.

He left the office in the eighties to study law examinations, and in 1983 he began to practice, in El Prat, then in Badalona, ​​in l'Hospitalet and in Barcelona, ​​where he began his specialization in the criminal field, and in 1993 he joined the Audience of Barcelona.

In 2010, he was elected president of the TSJC, the highest jurisdictional authority in Catalonia, but after his five-year term was over, it was not renewed by the General Council of the Judiciary, which preferred a conservative president to the tribunal that had in its hands the complaint against the expresident. Artur Mas for the 9-N. The progressive association Judges for Democracy, to which Gimeno had joined in 1984 and of which he was a spokesman, had already denounced "maneuvers" to remove him from office if he did not bend "to certain partisan interests."





"Of course I miss being a judge, I've been a lifetime. Now I have had to adapt to another reality, which has points of contact but it is not the judicial area and sometimes I think 'I would go here', but I can not, "he details, referring to the limitations of the Anti-Fraud Office, which does not sanctioning power and, if it detects signs of crime, it must pass the matter to the Office of the Prosecutor.

But he prefers to put the emphasis on prevention. "I'm Pepito Grillo, someone has to be insisting," he jokes. With an annual budget of 5.3 million and about fifty employees, the entity has experience in risk analysis and definition and integrity plans, with the idea that if someone deviates, the alarms will go off. On Wednesday, in his appearance in the Parliament, Gimeno called for a "strategic plan to fight corruption", which, he warned, "is not controlled", and advised to professionalize the Administration and improve public procurement.

He is fond of opera and has a subscription in the Liceu, but at home he is torn between pop and rock, depending on the mood. He is married to a professional in the field of psychology and they have two sons in their twenties.

And once every two months, for years, attends a literary gathering with a group in which jurists are the majority. In fact, when they began to meet, law was the central issue - they had addressed, for example, how to treat someone with dignity in a judgment that would not be favorable to them. But already they are given to the "pure and hard literature", he jokes, and they comment on books like Ordesa, by Manuel Vilas, or Taxi, by Carlos Zanón, among the latter.





And that nobody gets confused. Even if he battles corruption, he does not read a crime novel. And that at home, he stresses, has a true collection of Nordic authors of this genre, the favorite of his wife.







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