The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, slipped this Wednesday in the Congress of Deputies one of the reasons why, in the last two days, he has repeatedly stated that "the objective reasons" that determined the loss of confidence in Colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos that led, in May 2020, to his sudden dismissal as head of the Civil Guard in Madrid.
This dismissal was annulled on Tuesday by the Supreme Court.
Grande-Marlaska, who was responding to a question from the PP about the recent resignation of the general director of the armed institute, María Gámez, linked this lack of confidence to the role that the high command had in controlling the reserved funds during the so-called Operation Kitchen , the illegal espionage of the former treasurer of Genoa Luis Bárcenas organized, between 2013 and 2015,
"Would you have confidence in those people who managed the reserved funds without due control [...] and with this non-control of the reserved funds allowed them to be used to destroy evidence so that the PP could hide their responsibilities?" Grande-Marlaska snapped at the deputy Ana Vázquez, in clear reference to Pérez de los Cobos, who, between 2011 and March 2018, was the director of the Coordination and Studies Cabinet of the Secretary of State for Security, a position from which he the use made of this item.
“This type of people is, at least, the ones that this Interior Minister does not have, he has not had and will not have confidence in,” she added.
When Grande-Marlaska took over the Interior portfolio, Pérez de los Cobos was no longer in charge of controlling this item.
A few months earlier, still with Mariano Rajoy at the Moncloa Palace, he had left the post of director of the Coordination Cabinet to take charge of the Madrid Command.
He remained in that position for a little over two years, until in May 2020 he was suddenly dismissed by the minister for "loss of confidence" after learning from a newspaper that agents under his command were investigating the director of the Alerts and Emergencies center. , Fernando Simón, within the
for holding feminist demonstrations days before the first state of alarm for covid-19.
The dismissal document detailed that the dismissal had been agreed for "failing to report on the development of investigations and actions of the Civil Guard, within the operational framework and of the Judicial Police, for information purposes", in reference to those investigations, which finally they were archived by the judge who was investigating the case.
Since then, Pérez de los Cobos has been stationed in the Weapons and Explosives Intervention.
The recent ruling of the Supreme Court that annulled this decision obliges the minister to restore him to his position as head of the Civil Guard in Madrid and to pay him compensation for the money he has stopped receiving since his dismissal, since the remuneration as head of the Command is higher than what you perceive in your current destination.
However, Grande-Marlaska has insisted, since the meaning of the ruling was known, that he is going to wait for the literalness of the sentence to be known to find out what he will do.
"When the resolution arrives, it will be issued, in execution of it and in accordance with what the Supreme Court declares because we still do not know the content, whatever is appropriate," he said this Wednesday in Congress to immediately emphasize that "the lack of confidence [ in the high command] remains.”
It is not the first time that Grande-Marlaska has used the
to face the PP's attacks on his management.
On Monday, during his appearance in the Interior Commission of Congress for the so-called
, in which alleged irregularities in the awarding of works in Civil Guard barracks are being investigated, the minister recalled that the last director general of the Civil Guard with the PP, José Manuel Holgado, ordered the filing, in December 2017, of the investigations that Internal Affairs had initiated into the existence of this plot.
"You stop it and have it archived," he stated before linking that attitude to the illegal espionage of Bárcenas and the irregular use of funds reserved for it.
"During the period 2011-2018, the PP governments used inadmissibly public resources and the media, which should have been allocated to the safety of all, for partisan and spurious purposes in an unacceptable manner in a democracy," he stressed.
Grande-Marlaska also recalled that day that two of the top officials of the Interior in those years, Fernández Díaz and whoever was his
, Francisco Martínez, can "be sentenced to long prison terms" after the Prosecutor's Office has requested 15 years jail time for each of them for illegal espionage on Bárcenas.
However, until now Grande-Marlaska had not pointed to the role of Pérez de los Cobos in controlling the funds reserved in those years to explain, at least in part, his loss of confidence in him.
In fact, the colonel has never been charged for these events, but he did have to testify in the National Court as a witness in November 2020. Then, the high command of the Civil Guard assured that he was never aware of Operation Kitchen or of others and that its mission was, exclusively, to authorize the deliveries of money to the different units of the National Police and the armed institute for the payment of informers and other expenses prior justification of the same, although without going into the detailed details of those games.
The colonel also affirmed that the times he dispatched with Jorge Fernández Díaz they never spoke of monitoring Bárcenas and his entourage without judicial control.
Pérez de los Cobos then reduced his role to that of a "treasurer" who received a series of folders with reports on the needs for reserved funds of the different units, which he was authorizing.
He simply checked that the formal requirements were met, but he did not receive information on the origin or scope of the operations, since these had been previously authorized by those responsible for the units.
Months later, in March 2021, Pérez de los Cobos testified again in the
, but this time not in the National Court, but before the congressional investigation commission into those events.
On this occasion, and when asked by the different parliamentary groups about the use and management of the nearly six million euros per year from this item, the high command of the Civil Guard hid behind the fact that the reserved funds were considered material classified as secret by law not to answer.
"I can't answer that question," he responded almost automatically to most of the questions he was asked.
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