Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Defending The Incompatible

In February, an article appeared in the local press which praised the bravery of Calvia's mayor, Alfonso Rodríguez. As I said of this at the time: "His bravery was because he had shown his willingness to remove a town hall official who was obstructing an investigation by a lower-ranking official. Moreover, Rodríguez was making it clear that Calvia will be ensuring that this investigation proceeds."

The mayor now faces a charge of malfeasance, an abuse of power, an act by a public official which is legally unjustified and contrary to law. The charge has been brought against him by Pedro Horrach, a name that should be very familiar. Horrach was until recently a prosecutor with the anti-corruption delegation in the Balearics: the best known prosecutor in Mallorca and probably in Spain. It was Horrach who gripped a nation and who came to the attention of the international media as the trial of Iñaki Urdangarin was broadcast. Horrach was the prosecutor of Urdangarin, of Matas (not for the first time) and others. He was not the prosecutor of Princess Cristina.

In a separate article, I praised Horrach. Despite the disagreement with Judge Castro regarding the prosecution of the Infanta (Castro was for, Horrach against), his honour was not in question. It still isn't. But I am not alone in having been surprised (to put it mildly) that it was Horrach who should be the one pressing charges against Rodríguez. No longer an employee of the state, back in private practice, his first notable intervention was linked to a corruption investigation of vastly greater significance than that of Urdangarin or anything that Matas got up to: the Cursach affair.

The town hall official who Rodríguez removed was Jaime Nadal. The former director of commercial affairs, it wasn't strictly his domain to be involved with licences: this is the business of the "activities" department. Nevertheless, it was alleged that he had sought to obstruct a review into the BCM licence. Rodríguez took his decision only a few weeks before the events of early March. The National Police raided Megapark, BCM, Calvia town hall and other establishments. Tolo Cursach was arrested. The mayor wouldn't have known about this. But when Nadal was himself arrested last week, accused of having favoured Cursach businesses, another piece of the jigsaw seemed to have been placed. At which point, enter Pedro Horrach, who had come to Nadal's defence.

Horrach is of course at liberty to take on any case he wishes. But the prosecution service, his one-time colleagues, believe that there is incompatibility. The college of lawyers in the Balearics, essentially like the Bar Council in England and Wales, is considering a breach of the state code regarding compatibility. It could oblige Horrach to step away from the case.

He wasn't directly involved in the Cursach investigation. The chief prosecutor is Miguel Ángel Subirán, a former colleague who was seemingly taken aback that Horrach should have been in court when Nadal made his appearance before the investigating judge, Manuel Penalva. The possible incompatibility arises from the fact that Horrach did have some involvement in the wider investigation into police corruption, which led eventually to Cursach. He had, for instance, passed on to Subirán a report by businesspeople in Magalluf who had complained to Horrach about police, politicians and bribery. These businesspeople had gone to Horrach because they hadn't felt they could trust going to the police.

The issue of possible incompatibility will be one for legal argument, but there is a separate issue, one of perception, one of appearance. Horrach was something of the people's hero, a tireless persecutor of the corrupt. With Castro, Subirán, Carrau, Penalva and other judges and prosecutors, he had won the people's respect and admiration. He now risks seeing that evaporate.

One isn't of course party to the minutiae of the accusations against Nadal. There may indeed be very good grounds for his defence. There may well be good reasons for the charge levelled at Rodríguez. But it is the fact that Horrach has become involved which has stunned so many people. Even more so because of the alleged link of Nadal to Cursach.

To the outside world, i.e. the world outside Mallorca, Cursach is of little significance. What mainly matters to the outside world is the fate of BCM. The outside world draws a distinction between the criminality allegations and the club. In Mallorca, though there are many who are making a similar distinction, there are others who are not. A quite astonishing recent article in El País* makes the point clearly enough.

The Cursach affair surpasses anything else. Horrach is now caught up in it. And there are those who express their concern about the show which surrounds the justice system. The walk to the courts, the sheer spectacle and the consequent celebrity. But celebrity can turn sour.

Index for May 2017

Airbnb myths - 6 May 2017
All-inclusives and false claims - 3 May 2017
Andalusian migration - 5 May 2017
Balearic financing - 17 May 2017
Balti Picornell - 7 May 2017
Beach weddings - 25 May 2017
Blue Flags - 11 May 2017
German tourism quality - 16 May 2017
Holiday rentals - 15 May 2017, 27 May 2017
Los Javaloyas - 22 May 2017
Mallorca Live Festival - 12 May 2017
May fairs - 8 May 2017
Mayors' job swaps - 30 May 2017
Mediaevalism - 20 May 2017
Park and ride for beaches - 2 May 2017
Pedro Horrach and Cursach affair - 31 May 2017
Pedro Sánchez returns for PSOE - 24 May 2017
Podemos Balearic leadership - 14 May 2017, 18 May 2017, 28 May 2017
Protests in Mallorca - 26 May 2017
Provincial Deputation - 10 May 2017
Son Bosc golf - 29 May 2017
Ternelles finca and beach trespass - 23 May 2017
Thomas Jefferson and Mallorcan wine - 1 May 2017
Tourism responsibilities - 13 May 2017
Tourist saturation - 4 May 2017
Touristification - 19 May 2017
Tramuntana and holiday rentals - 9 May 2017
Xelo Huertas - 21 May 2017

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