The second operation against the purchase of votes in Melilla results in 33 detainees | Spain

The second phase of the operation that investigates the purchase of votes in Melilla in the municipal and regional elections of May 28, and for which the leader of the Coalition for Melilla (CpM), Mustafa Aberchán and other leaders of This local formation has already accumulated 33 detainees, as reported this Friday by the Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia. Five of those arrested have been imprisoned, including Aberchán himself and several former councilors of the autonomous government, and a sixth has escaped jail after paying bail of 5,000 euros. The rest have been released with precautionary measures such as the prohibition of leaving Spain, the obligation to hand over their passports and biweekly appearances in court.

The majority of the latter are small businessmen and self-employed workers who are being investigated for alleged collaboration with the plot to rig public contracts worth six million euros in the previous legislature (2019-2023), when CpM was part of a tripartite party chaired by Eduardo de Castro (initially from Ciudadanos and later expelled from that party) and which also included the PSOE. The case is being investigated for the crimes of fraud in contracting, prevarication, embezzlement of public funds and membership in a criminal organization.

The head of the Investigative Court 2 of Melilla, María del Carmen Perles, who is investigating the case, considers that the arrested CpM leaders are members of a “criminal organization” that in a “planned” manner diverted funds through the rigging of public contracts. to “corrupt” the results of the regional elections of 2019 and 2023. In a writing, the magistrate pointed out that, with this, CpM intended to “reach the Government” – it achieved it in those first elections when it joined the tripartite after obtaining 10,472 votes and become the second most voted political force, after the PP – and try to “stay” there after the elections of May 28 of last year by buying votes.

The judge emphasized in her writing that there was “a distribution of functions among the people involved” in what she calls a “criminal network.” In addition, from Aberchán, in this second phase of the operation, Dunia Almansouri, her number one for 28-M and former Minister of the Treasury, has been arrested; Rachid Bussian Mohamed, former Minister of Infrastructure, Urban Planning and Sports; Hassan Mohatar, former Minister of Environment and Sustainability; Mohamed Ahmed Al-Lal, former Minister of Districts, Youth and Citizen Participation, who was already arrested in May in the first phase of the operation; Fátima Mohamed Kaddur, former deputy minister of Mayor and Neighborhood Relations, and Yonaida Sel-lam, president of the Melilla Municipal Housing and Land Company (Emvismesa).

The one baptized as Operation Santiago-Rusadir had had a first phase on May 23 of last year, just five days before the regional elections of March 28. Then, the National Police arrested a dozen people, including Mohamed Ahmed Al Lal, alias Himmi, at that time acting advisor for Districts, Youth and Citizen Participation of that Government and number three on the CpM electoral list for 28-M. Abdelilah N., Aberchán’s son-in-law, and his brother were also arrested.

All of them were accused of electoral crime and belonging to a criminal group after an alleged vote-buying plot was detected whose members toured the humble neighborhoods of the autonomous city in search of people willing to sell their vote in exchange for amounts that ranged between 100 and 150 euros. Those arrests allegedly thwarted electoral fraud. The 28-M CpM ended up obtaining 5,557 votes, a little more than half of four years before, and obtained five of the 25 councilors, three less than in the previous elections, which forced it to go over to the opposition and lose the councils.

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According to sources close to the investigation, the plot used the four ministries that were in the hands of the localist party during the previous legislature to divert public money through the allegedly irregular awarding of minor contracts, most of less than 10,000 euros, as well as various subsidies. . The suspicion falls on those awards that were cut into smaller items to avoid the call for public tenders and, in this way, have a free hand to award them, avoiding their oversight.

The investigations already allowed in May to identify 15 self-employed workers and six small companies – most with a single employee – as alleged beneficiaries of these frauds. The judge then ordered the Melilla Government to suspend any payment that was planned to be made to these companies by the executive itself, municipal companies or public companies dependent on it. These were mostly bricklayers who worked as self-employed workers and managers of companies dedicated to construction. Among them are a good part of those detained this week and who have now been provisionally released.

The investigation has revealed that a part of these funds allegedly diverted by the plot was used to buy votes, while another was used to pay individuals who acted as thugs for third parties. The investigations also look for indications of whether there was personal enrichment on the part of any of the main people involved.

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