Since 2018 the courts have been investigating an alleged crime of continued prevarication (deception) in Mogán Town Council’s having awarded up to 16 contracts to one particular law firm. Mogán’s deputy mayor, and councillor for Urban Planning, Mencey Navarro (CIUCA), will go to trial when the Investigating Magistrate’s Court number 3, in San Bartolomé de Tirajana, has reviewed the collected evidence of the commission of a crime of prevarication. A recent order from the Sixth Section of the Provincial Court of Las Palmas has also dismissed an appeal filed by the lawyer Miguel Rodríguez, who was a partner in this firm alongside Navarro, in which they have tried to have the case thrown out; a motion the Provincial Court has denied saying that “there is no place” to annul the investigation against the deputy mayor.

. Adapted from an original article by CanariasAhora, featured image of Mencey Navarro by Alejandro Ramos

The investigating magistrate of Court of Instruction Number 3, in San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Francisco Javier Ramírez de Verger Vargas, has already transformed the preliminary proceedings into what is known as an “abbreviated procedure”, the step prior to the official opening of the oral hearings. Previously, in March, he dismissed an appeal, again from the lawyer Miguel Rodríguez, requesting the annulment of this case. The lawyer tried to argue that the orders that had extended this investigation were in fact time-limited, but the judge also concluded that his request “has no place”, since he had not previously appealed those orders made in May 2019 and February 2020, neither before the magistrate himself nor on appeal before the Provincial Court of Las Palmas.

The lawyer appealed that order saying “there is no place to decree the nullity of two dictated orders.” On this, the Provincial Court has underlined that “The Organic Law of the Judiciary says: There can be no appeal against a resolution that resolves an incident”, meaning, “the appeal made should not have been admitted”. In addition, it adds that the question of whether the case is null or not will be answered in the final resolution of the case, rather than not hearing the case at all, “or by other means established by procedural laws” and remarks that “there is no evidence” that any appeal has been filed against those orders whose annulment is now being questioned.

In other words, they didn’t speak up at the time when the investigators deemed it necessary to continue, so they cannot now try to suggest, more than two years later, that the investigation should have been disbanded.

Magistrate Emilio Moya, in Las Palmas, stresses that the court is “aware” of the defence’s argument, which is that “it could hardly appeal the proceedings when at that time it was not recorded as being investigated, but with all due respect, the law does not indicate exceptions. The channel used to ask for the annulment of orders dictated years ago is not the correct one”. For this reason, the Chamber points out that it can only decide on the annulment, “not on the revocation of the orders that have not been appealed.”

Background:A wide ranging series of investigations into the activities of the CIUCA-led Mogán town hall began following accusations of various forms of alleged favouritism in contracting procedures, accusations of fraudulent activities, both during the elections of 2015 and in the years that followed the appointment of the current council administration, in which Mencey Navarro has played a key role as right hand man to the still serving Mayoress O.Bueno.

By the 2019 municipal elections further evidence was coming to light of possible irregularities, on a range of issues, and the court investigations continued behind closed doors, assisted by the Guardia Civil, and culminating in several arrests in 2020 (Including Navarro and Bueno), and the seizure of files and computer equipment from the Mogán Town hall.

In the summer of 2021 the investigating magistrate split the investigation in to four separate parts, connected to electoral fraud, irregular appointments, favouritism in contracting and the withholding of evidence during the investigations, among other issues.

The electoral fraud case has been provisionally suspended due to a lack of sufficient new evidence of an ongoing crime in 2019.  Too much time has passed since the initial accusations in 2015. The other cases involving the current town council members continue.

This one is all about resolving an accusation that Councillor Mencey Navarro irregularly awarded work to his own legal firm and business partner, paid for with public money but without following the proper procedures, and then allegedly tried to hide it. The awards were formalised through decrees and always for amounts of less than €18,000, which was the limit that at that time was set by Public Sector Contracts Law for minor service contracts ( it is now €15,000).

Editor’s thoughts: if a town council grants contracts legally, and in the proper way, then why would they want to avoid showing that in a court of law?

The Las Palmas Provincial Court’s judgement concludes that the appeal must be dismissed “without prejudice to what may be agreed on the validity of the February 9, 2019, instruction in which six months elapsed from it’s initiation (August 9, 2018) without extending the instruction or that of February 9, 2020, in which a year and a half had elapsed since the initiation of the preliminary proceedings without agreeing to any extension (which then took place on March 10, 2020).”

Editor’s Interpretation:Basically this investigation has continued, and been deemed necessary, since at least August 2018, and received further extensions over the following two years or more, it cannot be annulled simply because those who are under investigation did not know that they were being scrutinised, the case must continue to its conclusion as there is apparently sufficient evidence to justify its being heard in court. While there may be arguments that favour those being investigated, the appeals procedure they attempted to use was not the appropriate method.

Three defendants in the case
The investigating magistrate from Court of Instruction 3, of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, is prosecuting Mencey Navarro (CIUCA), along with a former PSOE councillor Artemi Artiles, a council secretary who was Councillor for Finance in Mogán during the 2015-2019 mandate and who currently works as a Sports Advisor at the Cabildo de Gran Canaria. They are charged with a crime of prevarication, though the judge has already filed the case regarding the beneficiary of these awards, Navarro’s business partner Miguel Rodríguez Ceballos, who it was that filed this appeal, now denied by the Provincial Court.

The judge referred to article 324 of Criminal Procedure Law, which deals with the expiration of terms and extensions to an investigation, and has determined that all the proceedings carried out with the aim of clarifying whether or not Rodríguez Ceballos participated, in allegedly criminal activities, should be put to rest. For this reason, “in view of the state of the proceedings and, in particular, extensions on the duration of the investigation”, the provisional filing of the case against this member of the accused has been agreed. That is to say, regardless of the outcome of the case, Rodríguez Ceballos is not likely to be blamed.  There is currently no question of impropriety on his part.