The former mayor of San Fernando sentenced for not responding to requests from the Ombudsman

The Provincial Court of Madrid has imposed a six-month disqualification sentence on the former mayor of the Madrid town of San Fernando de Henares, Catalina Rodríguez, currently an opposition councilor. The judges attribute a crime against State institutions to her because between 2016 and 2017, when she was mayor, she repeatedly refused to send documentation to the Ombudsman about the Plaza de España in the municipality, also the subject of numerous litigations for years. At the time, Rodríguez was mayor for San Fernando de Henares Yes You Can but she was expelled from Podemos and is currently an opposition councilor for Más Madrid. Her sentence of disqualification affects only the position of mayor.

Catalina 'Cati' Rodríguez was one of the so-called 'mayors of change' who emerged from the polls in 2015, the first time that Podemos and its municipal brands participated in local elections. In San Fernando, a town of almost 40,000 inhabitants of the Corredor del Henares, the formation 'San Fernando de Henares Sí Se puede' was the second force in the elections with five councilors and barely 150 votes less than the Popular Party. Its head of list, Rodríguez, was invested mayor with the support of PSOE and Izquierda Unida. Four years later the brand was diluted, Podemos was left with a councilor and Rodríguez went to the opposition with Más Madrid.

One of the issues with the most presence in the public life of San Fernando de Henares is its Plaza de España. The defaults of the City Council in previous legislatures to the construction companies that had to reform the square led to their embargo by court order. A project that ended up in court: the predecessor of Catalina Rodríguez, Julio Setién, is waiting to be tried for contributing the Plaza de España to the share capital of the commercial company that was going to manage the reform. All this in a town where, in addition, Metro line 7B and its works have caused sinkholes and cracks in homes in the municipality with damage worth several million euros.

The case of the Plaza de España was taken to court by the El Molino Civic Cultural Association, which in 2015 decided to contact the new mayor to request documentation. Faced with his refusal, they decided to go to the Ombudsman, who also received the silence of the City Council in response. According to the Justice, the Ombudsman unsuccessfully demanded explanations from the council six times: four times by letter and twice more by phone call between August 2016 and September 2017. The Prosecutor's Office ended up denouncing the councilor when he had already left office in 2020.

At first, a criminal court in Alcalá de Henares found Rodríguez guilty, now in the ranks of Más Madrid, of a crime against State institutions for not responding to the requirements of the Ombudsman and imposed a year of imprisonment on him. disqualification to act as mayor, in addition to a fine of 1,800 euros. Now, as this newspaper has learned, the Provincial Court has partially upheld her appeal and has left her disqualification sentence in six months. This ruling, moreover, is still appealable before the Supreme Court.

The opposition councilor alleged in her appeal, among other things, that the judges had not taken into account the circumstances in which the information requests from the Ombudsman had arrived: a change of government, constant changes in key figures of the consistory and a "supposed chaotic situation and collapse of the city council" that, for the Madrid Court, is not proven. "The requested information was easy to understand and fill in, without any information being provided by the requested mayor, sending simple delaying excuses from the city council, which can only be called clamorous inactivity," reproaches the Provincial Court of Madrid.

For the judges, "justifying a delay in responding to the Ombudsman of almost three years is difficult to assume", even more so in a council with a budget of more than 40 million euros and "the consequent administrative infrastructure". Already in the first instance, the criminal court said that the then mayor was "aware at all times of the successive requirements of the Ombudsman, both official and unofficial, knowing their urgent nature, as well as her obligation to attend to them ".

The judges have had several pieces of evidence to support Rodríguez's conviction: an official from the Ombudsman who recounted, says the sentence, "the succession of requirements, notices and telephone calls insisting on the need and urgency of sending the required information ". The opposition councilor today argued at all times that she never had any intention of disregarding the request for information.

The sentence does agree to reduce his sentence by half. The former mayor complained that she had been disqualified for a year without specific justification and the Court of Madrid understands that "it is erroneously justified with the statement that the crime was committed in a manner directly related to the performance of her function, which cannot be taken into consideration as an aggravating element". Acting as mayor cannot be an aggravation of the sentence, say the judges, because it is already part of the basic type of crime. In addition, she has no criminal record and, therefore, according to the Court, "the imposition of the minimum sentence of six months of suspension from the position of mayor must proceed."

Source link