The provincial magistrate presiding considered that it could not be proven that the socialist Mayor was aware of the existence the illegal buildings within his municipality.
On the contrary, the judge considered it proven that the mayor did act when it was brought to his attention of the existence of 22 illegal constructions in the municipality; he set about inquiring into whether the said buildings were legal or not and whether they violated the village’s urban-development plan.
Winding back a couple of years, the provincial Public Prosecutor accused Mayor Carrascosa (together with the Vice Mayor and the Councillor for Urban Development, the Municipal Secretary and the villages only municipal policeman) of perverting the course of justice and provided evidence to back his accusation.
On the 10th of April, these village officials were tried before the magistrate in Motril, facing sentences of up to 10 years’ barring from office, although the prosecution later lowered his recommendation to only eight years – he also dropped charges against four of the accused, leaving only the Mayor to face the music.
The prosecution argued that since the Mayor took office in 2007 there had been a proliferation of illegal constructions on greenbelt land, yet there was no official record of the Mayor taking any actions against them.
The magistrate acquitted the Mayor because he considered that it was not clear whether the said buildings could be ‘legalized,’ i.e., whether there was a chance of changing their illegal condition, therefore under such “doubtful circumstances” the Mayor could not be found guilty.
The Public Prosecutor was not happy, as you can imagine, so he launched an appeal against the court decision, claiming that the Mayor had not taken any steps to stop work on the said buildings whilst their situation was examined.
The prosecution added that it was patently obvious that the constructions, by there very size and form, were evidently illegal, yet no fine was levied.
In the second trial the defence lawyer argued that there was “an absence of knowledge concerning the existence of the said constructions before February 2011, which was when the Guardia Civil issued a report on the buildings, prompting the Mayor to immediately act by ordering the confection of a report by the Municipal Secretary, thus taking the first steps in legal actions against the illegal buildings.
Furthermore, the defence lawyer considered that the prosecution had acted unfairly by dropping the charge against the village’s only municipal policeman and the other officials, who were responsible for providing legal advice to the Mayor concerning urban-development regulations.
Surprisingly, the defence considered that the prosecution expected the Mayor to have “super powers” allowing him to know about everything that was happening in the village.
Summing up, the appeals judge agreed with the defence that the non-intervention on the part of the Mayor could not be taken as a implicit authorization for these illegal buildings to go ahead.
Editorial comment: what a bloody joke! Anybody who drove along the Ítrabo road in those years could see the hillside littered with veritable palaces passed off as “agricultural storage sheds (aperos). And the Mayor didn’t know that they were there?
(News: Itrabo, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)