The leader of the Gürtel plot, Francisco Correa, has not yet exhausted his judicial journey, after almost 15 years involved in problems with the Justice. The penalties that he accumulates will not expire until 2031, in the best of cases. He is, therefore, a man accustomed to the courts, whose nerves were not disturbed by appearing again at the National Court this Tuesday, this time to testify for his role in the award of the ‘stand’ of the Valencian Community in Fitur in 2009 and other minor contracts with Orange Market, a network company. Correa arrived at the judicial headquarters, located in an industrial estate in San Fernando de Henares, with his coat on his sleeve, despite the intense cold of the morning. Inside him, his former associates, Pablo Crespo and Álvaro Pérez, ‘el Bigotes’, also accused but, unlike Correa, did not have a prison permit these days to go on their own foot, were waiting for him.
Francisco Camps, a week before his trial for the ‘Gürtel case’: “The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office should be audited”
The long sentences weigh heavily and the three main defendants of the Gürtel have long since changed their strategy and offer to collaborate with the Prosecutor’s Office. The most they aspire to is for their sentences not to be excessively lengthened in cases that detract from them and to a certain benevolence with prison benefits. They don’t smile for the cameras. They differ in this from Francisco Camps, former president of the Generalitat and repeatedly acquitted in the judicial processes that have been surrounding him for 14 years. The Prosecutor’s Office requests for him a sentence of two years and six months in jail for prevarication and fraud against the administration, but the former Valencian leader remains innocent until proven otherwise. When he appears at the courthouse, a few minutes after the start, he approaches the cameras smiling and well dressed.
-Hello. Do you want something from me this morning?
Camps goes on to repeat, as he did recently in a public appearance, that the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office has “fed up” with him and has persecuted him “constantly” without the courts having convicted him, a circumstance that is “to make him look at it”, in his opinion. He says goodbye, enters the building and goes up to the first floor, where the twenty defendants and as many lawyers are waiting for the session to start. Standing next to a column, he chats with his companions two meters from Correa, whom he sees from behind.
Camps says abroad that he is not concerned about what Álvaro Pérez may declare, who called him a “soul friend” in a famous Christmas conversation intercepted by the Police. “No, if that’s what it matters […] You have to take it with a lot of patience and calm.” But inside, when Correa answers, first, and then Pablo Crespo, he occasionally shakes his head, even mutters some phrase of annoyance. “It’s kidding”, he manages to say. They are minimal hesitations; most of the time he attends in silence, motionless in his seat.
See yourself without looking
Correa’s interrogation is extended and the defendant insists, when the prosecutor asks him for some detail that does not come to mind, that if he does not answer it is because he does not remember, not because he does not want to collaborate. When he is finished, he is repeatedly grateful for being allowed to come to the trial unshackled, making use of his prison leave days. The magistrate gives a 15-minute recess. The accused and the lawyers leave, Correa goes to the bathroom. Returning, he walks past Camps, but doesn’t look at him.
After the break, Pablo Crespo begins, serious, with a declaration of intent: “I intend to conduct myself with nobility.” Crespo reviews the invoices and handwritten notes in his notebooks with the prosecutor. Several times he insists that the precise details of what happened in the Valencian Community will be best remembered by Álvaro Pérez, who had a “close relationship” with Camps and whom ‘el Bigotes’ “affectionately called ‘el curita'”. After 3:00 p.m., the president notices that several of the lawyers have a return ticket to Valencia this Tuesday. Pérez has not yet intervened. The session is suspended until the 13th. Camps is one of the first to leave. According to some witnesses, he is waiting for Correa at the door and this time their eyes do meet. “You’re a son of a bitch,” he tells her. According to his environment, reports Europa Press, the tone has been more moderate, he has used other words: “You are ruining my life.”
Apparently, Camps has been annoyed with Correa’s statement, who has confessed the facts prior agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office. Correa has assured that she met Camps at the wedding of the daughter of former Prime Minister José María Aznar and that she met him “two or three times”. Correa has gone a little further and has pointed to the irritated former Valencian president as the person who introduced Gürtel to the Valencian Community. But what has especially stung him, these witnesses continue, is a joke by Correa. “If they give me the third grade, I’ll come,” joked the leader of the Gürtel when the president of the court reminded him that he could waive his right to the last word so as not to return to the sessions.