Criminal Court No. 2 of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has sentenced the former mayor of Mogán Francisco (Paco) González (of the conservative Partido Popular) to eight years disqualification from public office, along with the ex-municipal secretary of the town council, Domingo Arias, for the crime of prevarication, in order not to convene a plenary session requested by the opposition.

The sentence considers as criminal the procedures followed by González and Arias, and the men criminally responsible, in their refusal to convene the plenary session that seven councillors had asked him to hold in April 2013, in order to address two specific issues: an alleged aggression by two local police officers against an immigrant and an outbreak of salmonella in a local nursery.

The then mayor of Mogán refused to hold that plenary based on a report issued by the municipal secretary, who considered that it was not appropriate to accept that opposition request.

Gonzalez’s defense argued in this trial that his client could not prevaricate, because he made the decision supported by the secretary’s report, but Judge Monica Oliva did not see it that way.

Gonzalez claimed the he did not lie,  but that if he did it was because the secretary told him to

The judge considers that there is clear evidence that, as proposed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the mayor and the secretary sought “deliberately and knowingly of its consequences” a way of acting arbitrarily so as not to accede to the petition of the opposition, sheltering this in references to municipal regulations.

However, the judge emphasised that the secretary and the mayor knew of the existence of judgements that questioned their interpretation and gave reason that the plenary session should have been convened.

The judge criticised Secretary Domingo Arias during the trial for having had “the audacity” to claim that these sentences “are not right.”

“Thus,” she added, “he not only [thinks] that he knows more than the magistrate, but also more than the members of the Canary Islands Superior Court of Justice.”

Regarding the mayor, she reminds him that he had been in office for ten years and that he was well aware that on previous occasions plenums had been called as requested by the seven opposition councillors.

The ruling also states that the defendants can not claim that a significant number of matters were requested or that they were “irrelevant”, but that the opposition demanded to discuss “a matter as important as an outbreak of salmonella in a day care centre and another that, in addition, at that time even had repercussions at national level, as with the supposed aggression of two local police toward an immigrant”.

Basically the long serving ex-mayor and the then secretary of Mogán council have been found guilty of lying and manipulating local legislation so as to avoid having to answer uncomfortable questions about public safety and the behaviour of police officers, at least one of which has been directly linked to the councillors.  The court has heard evidence that despite receiving clear evidence and instructions to the contrary the two men colluded to avoid a council session demanded by their opposition councillors seeking answers.

The ruling is especially critical of the secretary, because it is considered that the report he issued to support the position of Francisco González was not just crucial to the decision, “but decisive”, and especially for his attitude towards the judgments of the TSJC (Superior Court of The Canary Islands).

“(Domingo Arias) did then, maintain and continues to maintain that which is legal, which is worthy, is what he says, not what other laws of higher value repeatedly say or the judicial organs,” added Magistrate Mónica Oliva .

Paco Gonzalez was famously one of the several hundred Spanish politicians under active investigation for fraud and corruption, while still serving in their posts over recent years.  Both he and the current mayor of Mogán have been implicated in the long running Gondola corruption scandal which, after more than ten years of investigation, is finally coming to trial. We´ll bring you more on that case as the facts enter the public domain.