Benny’s Latest Acquittal

We don’t appear to have a different headline when it involves a court sentence where the ex-Mayor of Almuñécar, Juan Carlos Benavides, is concerned.

Basically, he’s done it again, walking out of a courtroom with a favourable court sentence under his arm, and this time it corresponds to the only outstanding case against him: obstructing the Regional Ombudsman’s Office.

Benny faced the judge on the 8th of February but the judge’s findings have only just been made known: it cannot be proven that the then Mayor had ordered that the requests received from Ombudsman’s office be blocked.

The judge admits that what has been demonstrated was the hopelessly inadequate staff coverage in the Legal Counselling Department of the Almuñécar Town Hall, which produced an insurmountable backlog. The judge took the opportunity to berate Sr. Benavides for allowing this to be, especially during the height of the building boom.

The court sentence goes on to say that it has been demonstrated that the Ombudsman sent ‘several’ requests for reports on six complaints against urban-development irregularities, each one containing a warning that a lack of response to the request could be considered as “obstruction.”

Additionally, both in 2008 and 2009 the Ombudsman’s Office sent an official fax (equivalent to a registered letter) warning the Mayor of the consequences if the reports were not forthcoming.

Not a peep was heard and the next thing Sr. Benavides knew was that he was facing a recommendation from Public Prosector for a 6-month prison sentence and two years barred from holding public office. As soon as this step hit the news media, the Town Hall immediately sent off the requested and required reports.

In his defence, the Sr. Benavides claimed that there had been no intentional obstruction of the Ombudsman’s Office as the problem was that the Legal Counselling Department, which had only one employee assigned to it, was completely bogged down and had failed to inform him of the existence of the Ombudsman’s requirements.

Judge Sergio Romero at the Motril Number One Law Court deliberated and after two months found that Sr. Benavides’s version was the only explanation for what had happened and that no proof existed to the contrary.

(News: Almunecar, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)