Crimes and misdemeanours in Mogán: Electoral fraud and alleged conspiracy case postponed until October
The Investigating Magistrate at the Court of Instruction number 3 of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Francisco Javier Ramírez de Verger, has postponed the taking of testimony from the people accused and investigated in the case of the alleged purchase of votes in the elections of Mogán in 2015 and 2019 until the autumn, when they are scheduled to appear on October 4, 6 and 22.
Defence lawyers of those under investigation demanded a postponement in the declarations last Tuesday because not all the witnesses had yet appeared, some of them due to a lack of time during an explosive first day of the trial, and others because they had not been properly notified.
Defence lawyers have requested the postponement, not wanting their clients, the defendants, to give public testimony before each of the witnesses in the case have offered their evidence.
So it seems, Justice must wait until the autumn at least. Among the testimonies awaited are the statements of the current mayor Onalia Bueno, the deputy mayor, Mencey Navarro, the town councillor Tania Alonso, the president of Aguas de Arguineguín, Luis Oller, the official Salvador Álvarez and lastly Ramón Trujillo “El Perraya” named as both complainant and accused, having incriminated himself, as a past collaborator, in order to testify for the prosecution.
Witnesses, and defendants, in all active investigations such as these, are usually referred to just by their first initials, to avoid making public their identity, unless their full name is already well known in public discourse. In the age of online “news” portals, journalism standards are often discarded in place of populist headlines and manipulation of the facts to suit biased narratives.
This in turn becomes an accusation which is then often itself used to drown out factual or well researched reporting.
It is very important to consult official channels, and read a range of published information, to understand what is really happening, stick to the facts and interpret the meanings. This is the job of the journalist
For some the truth is paramount, regardless of political persuasions, for others its the clicks and pandering to a particular world view that is the priority, often at the expense of the verifiable facts. It is important for every reader to satisfy themselves as to what is really most important to know.
The president of the Las Lomas de Arguineguín Neighbourhood Association, Jenni Hymoff came forward last week to clarify falsehoods that had recently been published, identifying her and misreporting her testimony before the judge, and his reactions, that had appeared in at least one online portal, seemingly sympathetic towards those accused and under investigation in the case. Indeed this website has been well noted for sensationalist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant and often inaccurate reporting of events, despite its apparent popularity among some islanders with right wing conservative tendencies.
Hymoff had been summoned to testify before investigating judge Francisco Javier Ramírez de Verger, in his investigation into the alleged purchase of votes in Mogán in 2015. She had reportedly presented herself to the courts in October 2020 to report irregularities with Mogán’s water company and its provision of services to the residents of Mogán, as it had become apparent that the investigations had also reached Aguas de Arguineguín SL and their representatives, against whose actions, and alleged negligence, Hymoff has been actively reporting and campaigning for more than 15 years.
Hymoff, well known locally as the volunteer coordinator of The Food Project Proyecto Vecinal de Alimentos de Mogán, spoke on radio show “Crónicas del Sur” to clarify the matter, upset by what had been published without any journalist even having called her to confirm the information prior to publication, denouncing the online statements as totally false.
The Neighbours’ Association of Las Lomas de Arguineguín, has been fighting for the rights of, and advising, local residents since its inception particularly on the subject of charges for water, purification, services and quality. Hymoff herself has, in the past, been legally denounced for “Calumnies and Injuries” by the company managing the water service in Arguineguín, a court case that she won, successfully defending herself against the rogue water company.
Hymoff said she regrets the clear manipulations by some media when supposedly reporting what happens in court testimony, since they have lied about what she said and what happened in her case.
She makes clear that at no point during her testimony, last Tuesday, July 29, did say she was a friend of opposition councillor for Mogán Isabel Santiago and her husband, it is totally untrue, “I only know them like everyone else”, as active politicians, she said she also remembers that she has had discussions with Santiago about a complaint, on one occasion, due to allegations of the presence of rodents at the previous local food bank distribution centre, which she and her association used to manage next to the old municipal nursery school.
On another point of clear misreporting, Hymoff corrects the false statements published in Tiempo de Canarias, by pointing out that it was in fact the lawyer of the water company entrepreneur, one of the ten individuals being investigated, who had commented that “she was giving a monologue”, but in no case did the magistrate respond negatively, and he was, in fact, very attentive and receptive to her statements about irregularities with this water management company in the municipality of Mogán.
Ex mayor, Paco Gonzalez (PP), had made very clear in his more than two hours of explosive testimony, during the first day of proceedings, that the entrepreneur behind Aguas de Arguineguín, Luis Oller, a defendant in this case, had had a vested interest in ousting Gonzalez, and was suspected of funding voter fraud, due to the fact that Paco Gonzalez planned to municipalise water services, and remove the contract from the company.
In Mogán there is much activity that goes unnoticed. Particularly in politics. Is it any wonder that some residents and business owners think that to get things done you sometimes have to ignore the rules? There are even those who think you can ignore the law so long as you have the right friends in the right places.
The currently serving mayor, Bueno, Mogán’s first alcaldesa, has been near-enough-continuously under investigation for 14 years, through a range of different probes into her activities on the south-west of Gran Canaria.
First arrested in 2007, when she was councillor for the PP and responsible for Housing and Social Affairs, in an investigation derived from Operation Gondola, that took until 2017 before the last of eight charges had to be dropped due to repeated delays and difficulties securing evidence and witness statements, which led the court to decide they could not continue forward, despite several known and damning testimonies, some might say incontrovertible evidence, and even wire tapped recordings of the accused engaging repeatedly in suspected serious electoral-roll irregularities. Evidence that was discarded.
The end of the “Operation Gondola” case was seen by Bueno and her collaborators as vindication, proving her innocence. It really proved that there is a lot of smoke down in Mogán and investigators have had real trouble bringing a criminal case together.
However, another serious set of complaints following the 2015 elections, which Bueno’s CIUCA party supposedly won, were followed by more recorded audio evidence and several ex-collaborators becoming complainants, one even implicating himself in the investigation, which subsequently led to the arrest of Bueno and two of her councillors last September. Ten individuals now stand accused and are under investigation along with Bueno’s own political party CIUCA Mogán.
This investigation has taken some time to arrive in court, and there was clearly sufficient objective evidence to lead to the forced closure of public buildings, searches and the public arrests of serving councillors, again, a few more months shouldn’t make much difference to the outcome.
The investigating magistrate has now delayed, until October, the rest of the hearings and remaining statements, out of the 29 people cited at first call. Those directly implicated and investigated, who stand accused of various crimes including electoral fraud, prevarication, various irregularities awarding contracts, and a range of other alleged crimes and misdemeanours, will have their opportunity to testify in the Autumn, including La Alcaldesa Onalia Bueno, Mencey Navarro and Tania Alonso, among others.