Former Popular Party (PP) treasurer Luis Bárcenas has told the High Court that he used undeclared funds from the group’s slush fund to pay for the defense for the military personnel accused of responsibility for the Yak-42 tragedy in 2003, in which 62 servicemen were killed. Bárcenas was testifying as part of a probe into a wide-ranging financial scandal involving alleged illegal payments to the PP and cash bonuses for top-ranking party figures, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Ex-Defense Minister Federico Trillo, who is currently Spain’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, has persistently denied that the PP, in government at the time of the disaster, was pulling strings on behalf of the accused. The Yak-42 case led to two judicial processes: one over the incorrect identification of 30 of the 62 dead, which led to the conviction of a general and two majors, and another for irregularities in the contracting of the aircraft, a Russian-made troop carrier, over which Admiral Antonio Moreno Barberá and Lieutenant General Juan Luis Ibarreta – the former heads of the High Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, respectively – were charged.
The Bárcenas ledgers, which were first published by EL PAÍS in January, also detail payments made to Trillo to the tune of 51,000 euros between July 2003, a month after the Yak-42 tragedy, and up to July 2006. Bárcenas told the court that he also paid a cash amount to Trillo to compensate for leaving his post as speaker of Congress to take over the Defense Ministry.
Trillo received 77,413 euros from the PP’s slush fund
Between August 2000 and December 2001, Trillo received 77,413 euros from the PP’s slush fund, according to the ledgers kept by Bárcenas. In total, the former defense minister pocketed 128,413 euros in undeclared money. Trillo was speaker between 1996 and 2000, and defense minister between that year and 2004. He receives one of the highest publicly funded pensions in Spain as former parliamentary speaker of 250,000 euros per year.