Alicante mayor in sights of anti-graft prosecutor

PP official and predecessor accused of accepting bribes

The public prosecutor in charge of corruption has accused the current mayor of Alicante as well as her predecessor of accepting bribes as part of an ongoing corruption investigation. Sonia Castedo, of the Popular Party (PP), and Luis Díaz Alperi, the mayor and ex-mayor, respectively, are suspected of having accepted gifts from businessman Enrique Ortiz, in exchange for rezoning favors that benefited the property developer and owner of soccer club Hércules C. F.

The accusations are the result of phone taps carried out as part of the Brugal case, which began with a probe into the garbage sector in the south of Alicante.

Among those implicated in the case are the PP leader in Alicante, José Joaquín Ripoll, and Ortiz himself. Alperi and Castedo are alleged to have accepted gifts from Ortiz during the drawing up of the Alicante Urban Planning Order (PGOU), which in Castedo's case include skiing vacations to Andorra, trips to Ibiza with friends and family and a Mini Cooper, which was to be given to a close contact of the mayor. In return, the PP politicians are alleged to have facilitated Ortiz's purchase of land located in natural parks as well as granting the rezoning of other plots.

Faced with the accusations, Castedo yesterday denied any wrongdoing, and said that Ortiz "did not get anything that he asked for" from the PGOU. She went on to show a series of invoices, including payment for the car and several vacations.

"This is not a legal matter," Castedo said Monday. "This is the beginning of the election campaign." The case was, she said, designed to "generate media interest and damage my political and personal image."

The mayor of Alicante, Sonia Castedo, showing invoices from trips to Andorra allegedly paid for by Enrique Ortiz.
The mayor of Alicante, Sonia Castedo, showing invoices from trips to Andorra allegedly paid for by Enrique Ortiz.Pepe Olivares
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS