POLICE ABUSE

Civil Guard anti-corruption crusader busted for forcing his way into brothel

Sergeant has been suspended for five days without pay over an incident dating back to 2012

The Pamplona brothel where the incident took place in 2012.
The Pamplona brothel where the incident took place in 2012.Luis Azanza

A Civil Guard sergeant has been suspended for five days over a 2012 incident in which he forced his way into a Pamplona brothel without paying the cover charge, then attempted to “spend the whole night drinking for free and partying” with his friends.

The military section of the Supreme Court, which dealt with the case given that the Civil Guard is a militarized police force, was divided in its ruling, with four justices arguing that the case should be sent to military prosecutors.

Sergeant José Alberto Nava Cano had previously forged a reputation thanks to his one-man fight against corruption and abuses of power inside the Civil Guard, a mission that had earned him the nickname “Lieutenant Segura,” after an army lieutenant who wrote a book revealing widespread wrongdoing in Spain’s armed forces.

“We’re going to show these people. We’re going to spend the whole night drinking for free and partying” - Sergeant Nava

His reputation for being a corruption buster was such that he was enlisted by the emerging party Ciudadanos to run in 2015 local elections in the Navarrese capital. The party ejected him after learning about the brothel incident.

On January 27, 2012, at 10.30pm, Sergeant Nava showed up at a brothel named Supermodels, located outside Pamplona, with three Civil Guard colleagues, a local police officer and an agent who works for the National Intelligence Center, according to court papers. They were all off duty and out of uniform.

When Nava and several other members of the group attempted to get in for free, the bouncer said there was a cover charge. The Civil Guard officer, “showing evident signs of being under the influence,” then produced his badge, claimed that he was there on a police operation, and threatened the employee. “I know where you live, and if I want to I can put you behind bars this very night,” he said.

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The establishment owner then came to the door and asked the officers in for a drink. Inside, Nava shouted out: “We’re going to show these people! We’re going to spend the whole night drinking for free and partying!”

The owner decided to phone the Civil Guard, which sent out two patrol cars. A report was filed with officials on the force, but not with the local courthouse or the attorney's office as is normal procedure.

Four out of the eight justices on the panel believe that a five-day suspension for “conduct seriously contrary to the dignity of the Civil Guard” is not enough, that Nava may have incurred in a crime of coercion, and that the case should be sent to military prosecutors.

English version by Susana Urra.