The court fits the first piece of the puzzle regarding the alleged Villarejo crime group

Retired Commissioner José Manuel Viareggio leaves the National Court in June 2022.image acquisition.

First judgment of the National Court against Jose Manuel Viareggio who He is sentenced to 19 years in prison, marks a turning point in this whole cause. Although the verdict can be appealed, the court is laying the groundwork for interpreting the thousands of pages of summary opened by the alleged “criminal organization” led by the retired commissioner, which also affected different levels of the state: such as police chiefs, former ministers and IBEX companies. A complex plot that remains very tangled: With this view, the judges decide only three of the nearly fifty lines of inquiry in the process. Many other pieces of the puzzle remain to be judged – eg he kitchen condition, operation to spy on Luis Barcenas, former treasurer of the People’s Party, with the supposed aim of stealing documents he could keep on top party officials; And many court decisions to write.

This is the chronology of how one of the biggest corruption schemes in Spain’s recent history was uncovered, which shook the very foundations of the state. But it is a story, equally so, of how Viareggio tried to avoid any responsibility:

March 2015: EL PAÍS reveals Villarejo’s work. The commissioner at that time was a real stranger to most Spaniards. Many years have passed He served as a spokesperson for the police union And though his name began to reappear in information about internal police wars, his public image was still limited to a few old photos. However, Javier Ayuso, a journalist from EL PAÍS, focused on Villarejo on March 9, 2015. With a headline that would change everything: “Commissioner Villarejo participates in 12 companies with a capital of 16 million”. On April 9 of the same year, he expanded the data: Commissioner Villarejo has run 46 companies over the past 30 years.. Thus, this newspaper revealed the business network that the agent had built around him for decades.

José Manuel Viareggio, in one of the existing archive photos from his time as union spokesperson.
José Manuel Viareggio, in one of the existing archive photos from his time as union spokesperson.Christopher Manuel

February 2016: First failed investigation. Inspector 111.470, assigned to the Police Internal Affairs Unit and Principal Investigator at Villarejo case, It was said at the trial that in February 2016 he had already entered into the commissioner’s dirty business. The agent explained that after analyzing the information from the commercial records, they discovered a suspicious structure that revealed “indicators of money laundering.” “There was a very solid capital of more than 20 million euros,” he stressed. But he added that they did not know where the money came from and whether it was criminal. in October, The Madrid Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered the closure of these investigations. Inspector 111470 explained to the court that Villarejo “discovered” at the time that they had kept him on target, even though the investigation was confidential: “He knew the details that were supposed to be kept.”

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June 2017: Villarejo shows his face. He wears a commissioner’s hat and behind a pair of sunglasses He appears again on TV on June 25, 2017In a program rescued. After years out of the spotlight, he shows his face, already surrounded by investigations other than the future Villarejo case (Like stabbing Dr. Elisa PintoI’m still awaiting trial): “Everyone talks about me, but they don’t know me. My version hasn’t been heard,” he says in that quote, in which he asserts: “I’m passionate about manipulating people’s opinions and standards, and that’s why I study them.”

Commissioner Villarejo, in the Courts of Plaza de Castilla (Madrid), 2017.
Commissioner Villarejo, in the Courts of Plaza de Castilla (Madrid), 2017.Alvaro Garcia

November 2017: the commissioner is arrested and imprisoned. he Villarejo case, officially christened Operation Tandem, broke out on November 3, 2017. After several months of investigation, the police arrested the main suspects that day: in addition to Villarejo, they arrested his wife, Gemma Alcalá; his partner, Rafael Redondo; and Carlos Salamanca, another commissioner. The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office led the process, which was endorsed by the National Court. During a search of Villarejo’s house, a hidden safe was found in his living room: “There was such a great deal of computers, little cassette tapes and stuff, that you say to yourself: ‘It’s true, it’s not a legend, it’s true that it’s been recording everything for 40 years,'” Prosecutor Ignacio Stampa said After years. On November 5, Judge Carmen Lamela Order of admission to prison From Villarejo.

July 2018: The reason why King Emeritus is scattered. The first lines of investigation focused on private espionage assignments to Villarejo (such as the three cases adjudicated in the first trial on which the deals are now being judged), but the investigations took a turn in July 2018. On the 16th of that month, the police sent a report to the judge entitled: “Facts Concerning Basic State Institutions.” In Villarejo’s house, agents found some audio recordings of conversations between Villarejo himself, businessman Juan Villalonga, and Corinna Larsen, former lover of Juan Carlos I. In these recordings, Larsen Narrate the financial events of the former head of state And identify the alleged front men. The National Court archived this type of investigation a few months later, but sent the information to the Public Ministry.

September 2018: An audio recording against a minister was leaked. The Pedro Sanchez government (PSOE) will also be mired in controversy. Conversations that Villarejo had recorded for years gradually began to leak to the media. Many of those who shared the tablecloth with him feared that his words would come out sooner or later. So it happened with Dolores DelgadoMinister of Justice in September 2018, when audio recordings of her meeting with the Commissioner when she was a National Court Prosecutor were released. Before, Delgado had confirmed publicly that he had no relationship of “any kind” with Villarejo.

October 2018: Rajoy government’s espionage operation. On October 29, 2018, Internal Affairs put a devastating new report on the judge’s table. Among other evidence, agents in the National Court presented a complete set of audios and receipts showing that the former driver of PP’s ex-treasurer, Luis Barcenas, was arrested as a confidant for spying on his boss. The investigation shed light on a Parapolice operation to steal Parcenas documents It can protect from the high-ranking officials of the PP, thus interrupting the legal case related to the conspiracy of Gurtel, who then besieged the people for corruption. This spread was launched in the Ministry of the Interior and accused, among others, of the former Minister Jorge Fernández Diaz; his former right-hand man and former Secretary of State for Security, Francisco Martínez; And the head of the national police with the government of Mariano Rajoy, Eugenio Pino.

Jorge Fernandez Diaz and Francisco Martínez at the doors of the National Court.
Jorge Fernandez Diaz and Francisco Martínez at the doors of the National Court.Gtres/EFE

December 2018: Ibex companies appear. Few sectors avoid Villarejo case Of course, business is not one of them. At the end of 2018, the abstract will mention Ibex 35 for the first time and open the ban. The Public Prosecutor’s Office asks the judge to investigate whether BBVA has contracted Villarejo’s services for years (as proved in the case of Francisco Gonzalez keeps charged, the former president of the entity). The network of corruption would later include other large companies in the country: Iberdrola, Caixabank, Repsol, Grupo Planeta, Mutua Madrileña …

March 2019: Maneuvers against Podemos. When Internal Affairs searched Villarejo’s files, new plots were uncovered. The police sent a new report to the National Court dated March 19, 2019, after finding a copy of the phone card of Dina Bousselham, counselor of Pablo Iglesias (Podemos), in the commissioner’s house, who reported that her mobile phone had been stolen in 2015, and its content ended up being published in various media. Judge Manuel Garcia Castellón opened a line of inquiry to find out the answer Whether the policeman committed the crime of divulging secrets by means of leakage That information to reporters or, even, if the alleged phone theft behind.

October 2020: Plaintiff Stampa removed from the case. State Attorney General’s Office, headed at the time by Dolores Delgado, One of the plaintiffs separates from the case, Ignacio Stampa. The Public Ministry decides not to renew it in the fight against corruption after a campaign by the far right and Viareggio against it.

Retired commissioner Villarejo leaves Estremera prison.
Retired commissioner Villarejo leaves Estremera prison.© Luis Siviano (El Pais)

March 2021: Villarejo is released from prison. Almost three and a half years after he entered prison, the National Court ordered Villarejo’s release due to the impossibility of trying him before the completion of the maximum period prescribed by law to keep someone in pre-trial detention (four years). “Have they decided to give vent to Spain? Well, I agree. I am glad that this happened,” the Commissioner said as he left Estremera Prison (Madrid).

October 2021: First large trial begins. In this oral hearing, three lines of inquiry (Iron, Earth and Pintor projects) were prosecuted. The first focuses on the commissioner being hired by the law firm Herrero & Asociados to spy on a rival law firm. Land deals with the family war waged by the heirs of Luis García-Ceresida, the promoter who built the La Finca luxury development in Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid). Pintor deals with how businessman Juan Muñoz Tamara, husband of anchor Ana Rosa Quintana, signed up Viareggio to illegally obtain data from a former partner who was demanding payment of a debt from him. This trial concluded in September 2022.

July 2023: First verdict against Villarejo. The court, headed by Judge Angela Murillo, issues its first ruling against the commissioner, who He is sentenced to 19 years in prison.

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