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CITY HALL CORRUPTION

Two high-ranking PP members called to testify in Brugal case

Last two mayor of Alicante accused of directly aiding businessman Ortiz by rezoning city à la carte

The Valencia regional High Court has filed charges against the serving mayor of Alicante and her predecessor for their alleged involvement in a public contracts corruption scandal in the city known as the Brugal case.

Sonia Castedo and Luis Díaz Alperi, both of the Popular Party, have been called to testify in the regional tribunal on October 19 on suspicion of bribery, influence peddling and abuse of privileged information in the handling of a public works agreement in Alicante.

The police, anti-corruption officers and the investigating judge maintain that Castedo and Alperi manipulated the urban planning program according to the “desires” of local businessman Enrique Ortiz, the main focus of the Brugal case who is alleged to have run a trash collection racket through his position as chairman of the Cívica group, which provides public services for the city. In exchange for their compliance, Alperi is alleged to have used Ortiz’s private jet to travel to Crete; Castedo is said to have been awarded a holiday in Andorra and a Mini automobile.

There are 16 suspects in the case, including José Luis Castedo, the mayor’s lawyer brother. The civil and penal chamber of the regional High Court declared the tribunal competent to take on the case in September, due to Castedo and Alperi’s parliamentary immunity. Both are regional deputies.

Claim of "defenselessness”

The investigating judge said there were indications that the case could have come about through “the receipt and/or request of gifts to facilitate information on the PGOU that should not have been made public.

“They also proceeded to modify the same in response to the wishes expressed by an individual – Enrique Ortiz – leaving aside the general interest and acting exclusively in private interests.”

Castedo said on July 5 that he would prove “the accusations are false,” and complained about his treatment in the media over the past two years as he had not been able to testify in front of a judge. “I have already been found guilty; there is no greater punishment than defenselessness.”

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