The trial begins against the former treasurer of the brotherhood of San Pedro de la Rápita accused of embezzlement
The Court of Tarragona judges from this Tuesday the ex-treasurer of the fishermen's brotherhood of San Pedro de la Rápita, accused of a crime of embezzlement of public funds for, allegedly, having pocketed 13,200 euros from the entity. The prosecution asks for three years in prison, while the private prosecution that represents the entity requests four years and three months. The defense demands his acquittal, since it maintains that the money he took from the bank was to pay material for the brotherhood and that he did so following orders from the former president. The defense strategy is to demonstrate that the entity had an economic lack of control. In fact, the former president and the administration have recognized black payments to workers.
In the first session of the trial, which is held with a popular jury, the parties presented their points of view on the facts. For the prosecution, the defendant made 59 cash withdrawals from an ATM from the current account that the brotherhood had in BBVA, between March 31 and June 23, 2017. According to the prosecutor's office, these money did not serve to pay suppliers of the entity, but "they remained in the power of the accused, who obtained a personal benefit". The private accusation specified twelve of these extractions were made on weekends or holidays, when the brotherhood and the companies were closed.
The defendant's lawyer, David Rocamora, has stated that "the brotherhood paid in black for any bankruptcy." The lawyer has pointed out that there was an economic lack of control in the entity and that many payments were made without an invoice. This Tuesday they have declared as witnesses the former president of the brotherhood and the administrative one. Both have recognized that from the entity they paid "bonuses" to some workers. Specifically, the president himself, the treasurer and even some employees who were in charge of carrying out maintenance repairs in the fishermen's houses that the entity has in some points of the Ebro delta.
However, they have spoken of different amounts. Thus, the administrative has said that the former president and the treasurer received 200 euros per month that "did not appear on the payroll." Instead, the former leader has indicated that he took 100 euros each month, that the treasurer received 60 and that the maintenance managers could charge up to 200. Likewise, he also charged an extra if he held meetings outside the municipality. "50 euros for gasoline to go to Amposta", he said. Between both populations there are 12 kilometers of distance.
Another issue that has focused the session on Tuesday has been the relationship between the brotherhood and the companies supplying materials to carry out repairs in the fishermen's huts. According to the accusation, the former treasurer justified the withdrawal of money from the ATMs to pay bills, but according to the administrative and the former president, these bills were always paid by bank transfer, never in cash. An extreme that has been confirmed by the owner of one of these companies, although he has stated that for "very small" amounts he does not issue an invoice, if the client does not request it. However, in the case of the entity "never without an invoice, always with a delivery note and charging by transfer".
However, to questions from the defense, the administrative has indicated that the delivery notes "were launched" once the invoice had been received at the end of the month. At the same time, the worker also recognized that to carry out the repairs the brotherhood does not request budgets from different companies. They simply work with "trustworthy" companies in the area. An expense that ranges "between 5,000 and 10,000 euros per year," said the former president.
However, the complainants explained that they became suspicious of the treasurer when they saw that the cash withdrawals did not correspond to the invoices they had. According to what they have said, the defendant "was long" when they asked him for explanations and that when they demanded the delivery notes or the invoices that he had theoretically paid in cash, the answer was a handwritten notebook page. A document that has been exhibited during the trial and in which only unrelated numbers appeared and without any concept.
The trial will continue this Wednesday, Thursday and Monday the 24th, when the defendant is scheduled to testify, although a priori he will only answer questions from his lawyer.