IT seems that a corruption case is never far from erupting inside the upper echelons of local government, and now Granada Mayor José Torres Hurtado of the Popular Party (PP), along with city planning Commissioner Isabel Nieto and several local businesspeople, has been arrested following an enquiry into real estate corruption at the highest level, police sources have confirmed.
On Wednesday April 13 Granada City Hall was raided by police, as well as several homes and businesses as the investigation got underway.
The investigation goes back to 2003, when José Torres Hurtado was first elected as mayor. It is still unclear whether Hurtado and his aide will remain suspects in the case.
A complaint from the Environment and City Planning Attorney’s office sparked the investigation, which is resulting in about a dozen searches taking place in a short period of time.
According to sources, the suspects are likely to be released after hearing the charges against them at the initial court hearing.
The claims all stem from an original complaint made back in 2014 when allegedly the building of the nightclub and skating rink were completed inside a protected ‘green zone’, and a separate incident where allegedly a businessman profited from the building of a public development project.
In 2014, prosecutors filed complaints against five high-ranking officials at the Granada department of city planning for alleged crimes against zoning legislation and breach of public duty.
Local entrepreneur Ramón Arenas was first to sound the alarm and complain when he claimed a property of his was being illegally invaded to build the new sports centre, he described it as “real estate fraud.” Local businessman Roberto García Arrabal was awarded the construction contract back in 2007. Reports suggest that prosecutors believe the case could involve embezzlement, breach of public duty, zoning violations, and influence peddling, among other crimes. Already a figure of €2.5 million worth of expenses has been suggested as a fine.
The city council, run by PP, had been hoping for the continued support of the emerging centre right party Ciudadanos, which has been continually campaigning for a zero tolerance policy towards corruption. Now it seems that socialists could be closer to taking over Granada City’s affairs as Luis Salvador, the Ciudadanos spokesman in Granada said his party had broken off relations with the PP over the case, but did not confirm whether they would support a vote of no confidence.