On June 25, 2015, the police arrested the then director of the Board of Trustees of the Alhambra, María del Mar Villafranca, and four other people, three of them also managers of the monument. The fourth was the administrator of the company that provided information services to the public and audio guide rental. After declaring that morning, all were released on charges of embezzlement and money laundering. This Monday, almost eight years later, the Granada Provincial Court has handed down a sentence and has acquitted the four defendants after the trial held last January. The Hearing, in a 96-page text that covers exhaustively everything that happened in those years regarding economic management and the relationship between the company and the managers, leaves no doubt that the actions of those involved were always correct and in accordance with the legality. This sentence is subject to appeal in the next five days and, if applicable, it will be the Supreme Court that will take up the case, although none of the accusations have yet announced an appeal.

Twelve days after that police intervention in 2015, María del Mar Villafranca resigned from her position after being firmly accused by the prosecution. Now, after learning of her sentence, the former director has explained to EL PAÍS that “after waiting more than seven and a half years, justice has finally been done.” “The moral damage is irreparable for me and my family, but it has finally been possible to demonstrate that there was no fraud, prevarication, or embezzlement, nor was the Board of the Alhambra and the Generalife harmed. Throughout my eleven years in charge of the Alhambra and Generalife Board of Trustees, I have always acted bearing in mind my commitment to the institution and that includes the general interest and the support of legal reports and intervention in administrative actions that firm. This sentence makes it abundantly clear. Although the truth has prevailed very late, ”she lamented. The former head of the Alhambra has announced a call to the media to speak more extensively about what happened.

The judgment of the call case audio guides He has also sat on the bench and acquitted Victoria Chamorro, former general secretary of the monument, José María Visedo, who was head of Economy and Accounting, and Alejandro López, director of the company that ran the audio guide service at the venue at that time nasrid Those two initial crimes of 2015 went to six in the recently held trial, according to the assessment of the different accusations, exercised by the Prosecutor’s Office, the Junta de Andalucía and the Granada City Council itself. The Prosecutor’s Office, for example, requested five years in prison for the managers of the Alhambra for embezzlement, in addition to other penalties of disqualification. The same penalty and a million euros fine was requested for the person in charge of the company. Greater was the request of the Andalusian Board, which reached 10 years in prison for two crimes for the former director and the former general secretary. In addition to the crimes of embezzlement of funds, the different indictments also included administrative prevarication, money laundering, fraud in contracting, falsification of a public document or misappropriation. None have been tested.

The ruling, in fact, leaves no doubt that nothing that the police – who issued a report estimating the fraud allegedly committed by the monument’s managers at five million –, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Board or the city council accused is true. The first amendment of the Hearing refers to the participation of the City Council in the trial, which should never have happened because, it says, it was not an implicated or injured party. It is interesting to recall the context in which this complaint occurred, at a time when the city council was in the hands of the PP and Villafranca was a relevant militant in the PSOE, of whose national executive she had been a part. With the PP in the national and local government, and the PSOE in the Junta de Andalucía at that time, the relationship of the municipes with the director of the Alhambra had been especially stormy for years. The reason was in the different projects that the city council launched publicly, always knowing that it would clash with the wishes of the directors of the Nasrid enclosure, and the political discussions that finally arose from those differences. Everything always in public and in a tone of municipal challenge to the monument. Behind that was also hidden the complaint of the popular that it was “the Junta and Seville” that governed the Alhambra. The mayor was then José Torres Hurtado, who resigned months later after being arrested for alleged crimes, some of which are still in court today. That confrontational tone landed Villafranca in front of the police and out of office. In the first session of the trial, a couple of months ago, the former director stated that she felt “persecuted”.

The case of the audio guides began after a complaint by a worker from the audio guide and customer service company for a tax offence. The Treasury reviewed the documentation between the Alhambra and Stendhal Museum Solutions SL, the winning company, and took the documents to the Prosecutor’s Office, which filed a complaint. A summary of the 96 pages shows that Stendhal had been providing customer service since 2005 and in 2007 obtained the audio guide rental service for four years, for which he would pay a fixed annual fee of 77,000 euros (121,000 in case of exceeding a figure of rented audio guides) plus a variable amount. From there, several situations are mixed in the complaints and accusations.

On the one hand, the company appealed to economic difficulties in order not to pay its obligations in the early years. That is the reason that gave rise to the police and judicial case when considering the police and then the accusations that the Alhambra did not do what it should to try to collect that money and, therefore, the public coffers were undermined. The accusation speaks of “lack of control and inaction of the leaders in the supervision of the contract and the payment of amounts”, in a debt that reached 600.00 euros. The ruling, for its part, makes it clear that the managers did act to change the situation and collect money because, it says, “there were sufficient requirements.”

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On the other hand, in addition, there were two contracts with money movement in the opposite direction. In the customer service, the Alhambra paid the company, while in the audio guides it was the opposite. Given the non-payment of the fee for this contract, the administrators began a compensation process. That is, they stopped paying what they owed to the company to reduce the debt until it was compensated. “Everything was compensated and finally paid”, confirms an expert opinion requested in the trial and also the sentence, which explains that “management informed the full Board of Trustees of the debts and the payment plan”, of which the mayor and some councilors of the Granada city council.

The accusations also pointed to alleged irregularities in the way of carrying out the contracts that, in some cases, had to be urgently extended. Also in this case, the three members of the court accept the management of those involved as valid. The only objection of the sentence is towards the way in which the company Stendhal Museum Solutions SL kept its accounting, “unreliable” he says at some point. This is relevant when it comes to accounting for rented audio guides because the canon to be paid to the Alhambra depended on that. The external expert opinion, finally, has not detected any irregularity either. In short, the hearing puts an end to a case that has lasted eight years, acknowledging that there was no favorable treatment from the Alhambra towards the company, nor did the managers make any arbitrary decision against the law.

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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