Madrid’s €500-million “City of Justice” complex dies a death

Opposition group asks where all the money has gone as coordinating company’s assets seen on slide

Institute of Legal Medicine in the failed City of Justice site.
Institute of Legal Medicine in the failed City of Justice site.ULY MARTÍN

Madrid's Ciudad de Justicia (City of Justice), an ambitious 500-million-euro project to bring all of the region's legal institutions together in an architectural paradise, has finally been shelved.

Eleven years after the project was unveiled, the conservative Popular Party Madrid regional government announced last week that the public limited company that was to manage the campus "is in the process of being wound up." The regional government's deputy regional commissioner for justice and public administrations, Elena González Moñux, had already informed the regional assembly in October that since August-September of 2012, the company has had no employees."

Just one of the 15 planned buildings, the Institute of Legal Medicine, was raised. It has been empty for the three years of its existence, has a 24-hour private security company and cost 19.3 million euros.

The regional government originally forecast that the complex would be completed by 2015. Opposition parties have reproached the governing party for failing to publish the Ciudad de Justicia's accounts since 2009, while an audit ordered in 2012 has yet to be carried out. The regional government last year pledged to publish a "complete picture of the accounts."

The history of this project should serve to illustrate the wasteful spending of the administrations of Aguirre"

In February 2012, as the impossibility of bringing the original plan to fruition became apparent, the regional government mooted a scaled-down version in an attempt to rescue the project. A public tender was announced for its construction and management at 33 million euros a year.

González Moñux said in October that the auditor's report would be available soon and when the accounts had been approved, a petition would be filed with the Madrid Comptroller's Office to terminate the project completely. "They have tricked us with the Ciudad de Justicia as they now want to trick us with free justice," United Left deputy Libertad Martínez said.

"The history of this project should serve to illustrate the wasteful spending of the administrations of [former regional premier] Esperanza Aguirre," noted UPyD deputy Elvira García Piñeiro. "They sidestepped all types of regulations and the accounts have not been presented at the Registry of Companies or in the Court of Accounts."

But the UPyD's own probe has uncovered an alarming hemorrhage in the company's listed fixed assets from 72 million euros in 2012 to 21 million in 2013. "We have no idea what has caused the disappearance of these assets to such an alarming extent," the UPyD deputy said.