Investigation against Barcelona mayor over subsidies to charities close to her party thrown out
Judge sees no criminal offence after seven months of investigation
BarcelonaThe 21st examining magistrate of Barcelona has agreed to close the case against the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, after considering that the investigated facts –subsidies to charities– "do not constitute a criminal offence", after seven months of investigation.
The complaint the 21st Court of Instruction investigated during the past seven months is almost identical to the complaint the group Catalan Lawyers for the Constitution took to the Prosecutor's Office in March 2021. The lawyer who represented them is the same one who now presented the new lawsuit. The Public Prosecutor's Office dismissed the case because it saw no evidence of a crime. In fact, during the processing of the court case, he opposed all the proceedings requested by the plaintiffs and was in favour of the shelving the investigation as requested by the City Council. He also warned of the risk of creating a "general case" against the mayor after the plaintiffs asked all subsidies granted by the City Council to be audited<.
Nevertheless, Colau appeared in court and was indicted on March 4. The mayor defended the legality of the subsidies before the judge and explained that she did not intervene directly in the subsidies. Later, the City auditor –who testified as a witness– stood by the decisions to award subsidies.
Fourteen investigations in four years
Since 2018, Ada Colau's government team has received 14 complaints. Most have been dismissed, but four remain open, in addition to the investigation over the subsidies: a lawsuit against urban planning councillor Janet Sanz over the council's opposition to the construction of a luxury hotel in Casa Buenos Aires, a lawsuit by Vauras fund which accuses Colau and councillors Marc Serra and Lucía Martin of coercion for the management of Bloc Llavors, a complaint before the Prosecutor's Office over pedestrian-first reform of street in Eixample and, finally, a complaint from a group of neighbours against Eloi Badia over the former National Police station in Lesseps Square being handed over to a youth group.
The Councillor for Citizens' Rights, Marc Serra, has always defended that certain economic and business lobbies are making "an abuse of the criminal sphere" using the courts to oppose the City Council's policies.