Benny Faces Cape Horn

The Mayor has a tough month coming up with a swarm of court cases to attend as the accused: he has a total of three trials and an appeal case.
Even though the Mayor has a habit of coming out of it all smelling of roses, four cases stacked against him in just one month could be a little too much even for him. The question is, do you need luck to win a court case, or do you just need to be innocent?
Starting with the appeal presented by his lawyer, Juan Carlos Benavides has already been found guilty of coercion against the TV company that used to provide the municipal television service. He was sentenced to 28 months in jail and another 28 months barred from office. He lodged his appeal before the provincial law court, against whose final judgement there can be no appeal.
On the 2nd of this month the Mayor is facing the Judge in Motrils´ criminal court, where he stands accused of slander. He allegedly implied that the then female leader of the local socialist party had ‘slept her way up the ladder:’ he reportedly made a comment that implied that her relationship with the provincial head of her party had been more than ‘work based.’
The Public Prosecutor on this one is recommending that he be made to pay 21,600 euros in damages.
On the 14th and 15th of this month he will be facing his toughest judicial challenge when he must answer to the accusation of embezzlement of public funds – this one could mean being barred from office for two years.
This is a little complicated to explain, but bear with me: in 2003, Sr. Benavides denounced the then conservative mayor, Juan Luis González over a supposed electoral offence. He said that the ex-Mayor had used public funds to finance the printing and distribution of a favourable magazine on the running of the town under the conservative administration. Sr. Benavides claimed that the same public funds had been used to inaugurate La Plaza del Pescador (fisherman’s statue), which was presented as an electoral event.
Much to Sr. Benavides surprise, in 2006, the case was shelved on the Public Prosecutor’s recommendation, which then denounced Sr. Benavides of misusing public funds himself! You see, Sr. Benavides allegedly used public funds to fund the court case against the ex-Mayor, whereas the case had been brought against Sr. González in a private and not public condition. The Public Prosecutors accused the Mayor of using 6,000 euros from the municipal coffers as a deposit before the court.
And, finally, to round off a bumpy lead up to Christmas, on the 16th, together with six councillors belonging to his party, he faces a charge of an offence against regional building regulations, for having built the La Herradura sports centre on green-belt land. If found guilty, he faces two years in prison and ten years barred from office.
But it doesn’t end there, because on that very same day, Juan Carlos ‘bullet-proof’ Benavides will be appearing as the claimant in a case against Juan Luis González, who is defending himself, as ex-Chairman of the Partido Popular, against a claim for 3,000 euros damages.
If Benny gets through all that unscathed (and 3,000 euros better off) he is still to face the charge of fraudulent bankruptcy, in which the Public Prosecutor is recommending 30 months in prison and a 27,000-euro fine.
The important thing with this last one is that under Spanish law, if it is your first offence and the sentence is 24 months or less, it is a suspended prison sentence, so if the Mayor is found guilty, then it is a spot of striped sunshine for him.

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