The Ministry of Justice paid during the stage of Rafael Catalá (PP) to the legal aid lawyers appointed to several defendants in the plot Gürtel, which had not recognized the right to free legal assistance, among them, Francisco Correa, and several companies involved in the network of corruption that nested in the formation conservative, according to the documentation, and the relationship of payments to which had access THE COUNTRY. An alleged irregularity of 800,000 euros, which has meant that the current team has opened an internal investigation.

According to the relationship of costs, Justice paid at the stage of Catalá close to 800,000 euros to counsel for defendants as a Strap; the former mayor popular of Majadahonda, Guillermo Ortega; and, at least, 11 limited partnerships involved in one of the largest corruption schemes in the country, whose network of companies lucró with the PP national during the aznarismo. These amounts were disbursed through mechanisms of free legal aid, despite the fact that legally they had recognized the right, reserved to those who show that lack of material means to afford a defense.

Sources close to the former Justice ensure that the first problems with these payments were detected days before the change of Government in 2018, caused precisely by the judgment of the Gürtel that condemned the PP national to be a beneficiary of this “system of institutional corruption”. These same sources considered “surprising” that has paid for the assistance to natural persons and legal entities that allegedly had no right to do this, such as limited partnerships —to which the law excludes—.

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in Spite of this, one of the attorneys appointed to Strap explained to THE COUNTRY that he knew that he had not been recognized assistance free of charge. And another lawyer said that in the College of Lawyers of Madrid (ICAM) he said that even he was going to take the case of societies the body which approves the granting of this right because it’s not what they were going to grant, but that after it reached an “agreement” with the ministry. In fact, were paid for eventually these defenses, according to the relationship of payments. The ICAM has not wanted to respond to this newspaper about it, but it has acknowledged by e-mail that this type of companies do not have the right to free assistance.

The origin of these payments is in June of 2016, when Catalan signed an agreement with the General Council of the bar and the ICAM to increase the subsidy they receive court-appointed attorneys who worked in the defense in the macrosumario of the case Gürtel. The agreement passed by multiply by up to four times the economic contribution due to the special complexity and dimension of the cause, which is investigating since 2008 and has a dozen separate pieces. The view of the trial central Gürtel —the so-called Era 1— added 125 sessions between October 2016 and November 2017, and the judgment held 1.687 folios.

The idea that underlying this agreement, similar to one signed in 2006 by the minister Juan Fernando López Aguilar (PSOE) for the trial of 11-M, was to compensate the lawyers that they should dedicate themselves almost exclusively to these cases and to ensure that indigent defendants do not suffer defencelessness. The convention 2016 set to a maximum of 30,000 euros for a counsel ex officio. However, Justice exceeded that limit; in addition to that, according to the certifications of payments, to be paid for the defense of processed that did not have it granted, as a Belt, the leader of the plot linked to the PP, whose three lawyers received 67.506 euros.

According to the relationship of expense, the defense of Guillermo Ortega, sentenced to 38 years in prison —the maximum sentence the trial central Gürtel—, was also paid by the department which was headed Catalá, with 38.348 euros; and that of his wife, Gem Matamoros, convicted as a participant to title lucrative, for which turned to minutes, for a total of 56.987 euros. In the case of this marriage, the Central Commission for Free Legal Aid had agreed to in may of 2015 deny them the benefit, which however ended up being paid.

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questions from this newspaper, the current team of Justice repeats that, from that came the current minister Dolores Delgado with the PSOE, has not been allocated even a single euro to the convention. In its turn, has admitted that it has opened an internal investigation to reconstruct the record which validated the payments. Among other games under suspicion, are 56.987 euros, destined to the defense of the Immaculate Mustard, used the plot finally acquitted, which was the beneficiary of the assistance free of charge. And directed to reimburse the lawyers of 11 commercial of the accused, among them some of the main plot, as the Strap: Pasadena Travel (56.987 euros), Good and Better (76.311 euros) or Special Events (56.987 euros), all of them under judicial administration. Also figure the limited partnership Cresva, the number two of Gürtel and the former secretary of organization of the PP in galicia, Pablo Crespo, also condemned. And the society screen Piggy-bank Corporate 02, which according to the registry data continues to belong to Ortega.

Sources of the ministry team in the era of the PP indicate that they are the law schools, in this case of Madrid, which managed applications and those who have to render accounts on how to apply the criteria of granting of the free assistance. In addition, these same sources insist that the management of the convention was held in the lower rungs of the ministry, at the level of assistant directors-general.

The battle between the ministry and the bar Council

These payments are unleashed in the past year, a battle between the current team of Justice and the General Council of the bar, to whom the ministry transfers the money. After the change of Government, the socialist government found that it had exceeded the cap provided for in the covenant —endowed with 570,000 euros, but is paid more than a million—, has suspended subscriptions pending and asked the council to give back the exceeded. This he refused, but finally did so by receiving, according to said, the “threat” from the Government that it would not pay the following minutes of all lawyers in the country. Then, they announced an appeal by the contentious-administrative.

questions of THE COUNTRY, the council defends the payments to the lawyers Gürtel and insists that the law provides that all defendants in a criminal trial must have a lawyer —including legal persons, if so decreed by a judge— and criticizes the fact that these may not charge for months of work, because many of these companies wienter in a situation of insolvency. Given this, the council states that it is normal that the colleges pay for the minutes to court-appointed attorneys and, if the lawyer gets after that the customer will pay, the returns. Sources of Justice denied such a mechanism. And sources of the team of the PP pointed out, for its part, that if not met the conditions to initiate records for reimbursement.

Sources of the stage Catalá, about the fact that they go over the top of 570,000 euros, recognize a possible “failure of control”. However, they explain that, although the convention sets a limit, the funds come out of a credit-general of the ministry against which all schools billed. “It seems that the bills were coming, and we were paying with the game overall, but the excess should have been identified. Is not lit the alarm”.

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