Carlos Mur, the senior Madrid official who signed the protocols that prevented the hospitalization of elderly patients in residences, said this Thursday before a judge that these documents had the approval of the Minister of Health, Enrique Ruiz Escudero.
The former general director of health coordination, who has appeared as a witness in the Plaza de Castilla courts, has declared that these documents were made to support the health workers who made hospitalization decisions, but added that he does not consider that they were mandatory.
His statement contrasts with the version given by another witness minutes before, the former Minister of Social Policies, Alberto Reyero, who has declared that they were binding, in view of the thousands of deaths that occurred.
Ayuso wants the imputation of former counselor Reyero
It is the first time that political officials in Spain appear before a judge for deaths without health care at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and the question now is whether the judge, head of the Investigating Court number 9, Arturo Zamarriego, will call the superiors of Mur.
That is the claim of the families' lawyer, Carlos Vila, who follows a ladder strategy, by which he hopes to continue climbing the scale of responsibility until he reaches Escudero and the president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso.
Mur has declined to make statements to this newspaper after leaving the courts, alleging the state in which the investigation is still found.
The families' lawyer asked him during the hearing about Escudero's role.
"He was my superior and of course he knew [the protocols]," Mur said, according to what the lawyer said at the end of the appearance.
According to Vila, Mur has recognized that the Community did not comply with the other side of the protocols, the medicalization of residences.
He has recounted that they were not completely medicalized, despite the fact that some received oxygen therapy, and has acknowledged that the counseling did not allow transfer to the Ifema field hospital, where mild patients were preferred.
"Mur has said that he was a simple director general without command in the square and that the big decisions were made by the counselor," according to Vila.
The lawyer has been hopeful after the hearing.
"The judge wants to find out if there is a causal link between the protocols and the deaths, and for this he has commissioned a report from a forensic specialist," said the lawyer.
The parenthesis theory
If the judge summoned Escudero, he would have to refer the statement to higher judicial authorities.
As a director, Escudero is registered before the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid.
And since Ayuso has already announced that he will name him a senator after the elections, he would become registered before the Supreme Court.
The expected statement as witnesses by Mur and Reyero, to which the press did not have access, has occurred in one of the dozens of cases prosecuted in Madrid for the events that occurred at the beginning of the pandemic.
Until now, the judges who have examined the facts have archived the investigation or have limited themselves to summoning the doctors or directors of residences.
The case being investigated by Zamarriego concerns three deaths in DomusVi Albufera, a 143-bed home in Vallecas that depended on the Infanta Leonor Hospital.
They died on March 30 and April 7 and 8.
During the first wave, 37 people who lived in that center died, of which 22 did so in the residence.
According to the lawyer and the families, the workers in the residences and the hospital doctors were limited to complying with the protocols.
For this reason they believe that the responsibility for what happened lies with the politicians who made the decisions.
In this regard, Reyero has told this newspaper in the corridors of the court that he believes that Mur is "a scapegoat."
Mur, who today occupies a managerial position in public health in Andorra, was general director of socio-health coordination of the Madrid Ministry of Health.
As such, he reported to the counselor Escudero who, given the situation of hospital collapse, made the decision that the elderly in residences would not be treated in hospitals, on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
As EL PAÍS has reported, Mur gathered a group of geriatricians from public hospitals the next day, who were going to act as a filter to decide who had the right to bed and who did not.
To give geriatricians legal certainty, they decided to draw up a document authorizing them to deny hospital admission.
The Community of Madrid disseminated on March 18, 20, 24 and 25, 2020 to public hospitals and nursing homes four versions of a protocol that authorized hospital geriatricians to deny the transfer of elderly patients when they resided in group homes .
Alberto Reyero, upon his arrival at the courts of Plaza de Castilla this Thursday.Santi Burgos
Mur has arrived in sight this Thursday at midmorning accompanied by three men, one of them Alberto Lahoz, recruited by him to help him with the herculean task of saving lives in residences.
He has reached out to Reyero, the lawyer Vila and Carmen Miquel, a lawyer from Amnesty International, an organization that has denounced the deaths due to abandonment.
First Reyero has spoken for almost an hour, in which, as he later said, he has insisted on the same thing that he has told in various interviews and in his book They will die in an unworthy way
“I have said the usual.
That the protocols must be understood in the context of the lack of medicalization and the non-referral to Ifema and private hospitals”.
Despite being the counselor on whom the residences depended, Reyero was not called by Escudero to make the key decisions.
On March 21, 2020, when he learned of the triage that his government partner had prepared, he wrote her an email alerting her to the possible illegality of those documents.
Later, she publicly broke with him by criticizing him for not doing enough to medicalize nursing homes.
“The judge has asked me if I considered that they were binding and I have told him that yes, but that the legal qualification does not correspond to me.
It is a matter of discussion, but I think so, in view of the effects they had", Reyero said.
When he has left the room, Reyero and Mur have said goodbye shaking hands.
"When everything happens we will see each other," Mur told him.
Right there in court, Reyero found out that Ayuso had just wanted to be charged.
"Well, I don't want it [to Ayuso the imputation]", he has responded to EL PAÍS.
And he added: “It is a contradiction.
If he wants me charged, file a complaint.
I understand that since they play provocative, they want to muddy everything.
The former director general has testified for 50 minutes, answering questions from the judge, Vila and DomusVi's lawyer.
No prosecutor has been present, despite the fact that the General Prosecutor's Office issued an official letter on October 6 of last year asking prosecutors to attend the statements of the families and relevant witnesses.
This lack of interest from the Prosecutor's Office has been denounced, among others, by Amnesty International.
"We hope that this means progress in truth and justice for the victims, but we regret that the Prosecutor's Office did not appear today in this statement of persons relevant to the case, in contradiction to the instructions and official letter of the General Prosecutor's Office itself," he said. Said Carmen Miquel.
Mur already testified in the Madrid Assembly on the extinct investigative commission, which was closed when Ayuso brought the elections forward to May 2021. Then he already said that he was following instructions from Escudero and that he presented a draft of the protocol for the first time to his superiors on Sunday, March 15, 2020, in a meeting chaired by the Minister of Health.
The triage in Madrid was supposed to be accompanied by a "medicalization" of the residences, but the reality is that the Community finally sent these health workers to the Ifema field hospital, where the transfer of these elderly people was not authorized, since that the Ministry of Health decided that only low-risk patients should be cared for there.
In the first wave of the pandemic, between March 8 and July 7 of that year, 11,389 over 52 died.
000 who lived in residences in Madrid, according to an analysis published by EL PAÍS.
Of these, 8,338 (73%) were not transferred to a hospital.
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