In a high-profile trial in Spain, an ex-top cop takes the stand.
As he went on trial for extortion and corruption, a controversial former police commander whose revelations have rocked Spain’s elite claimed Wednesday that he was treated as public enemy number one.
“They haven’t treated me like a suspected criminal, they have treated me like an enemy that needs to be annihilated,” Jose Manuel Villarejo protested to the press before taking the stand in a mammoth espionage trial involving 27 defendants on the opening day.
“When someone is a nuisance in our nation, they dismantle and ruin them, sadly using institutions as serious as the justice system,” said Villarejo, who wore a dark beret and sunglasses to Spain’s top criminal court.
The 70-year-old is accused of secretly recording discussions with the elite and wealthy in order to blackmail or defame them on behalf of other high-profile clients.
Scandals involving this dreaded former policeman at the heart of the so-called “sewers of state” have tarnished hundreds of influential businesses, high-ranking government workers, ministers, and magistrates in recent years.
Despite the fact that Villarejo is charged in many cases, the emphasis of Wednesday’s trial was on only three, all of which included businesses accused of utilizing his services to spy on both colleagues and competitors.
He has already served three years in pre-trial custody, but prosecutors say he may face 109 years in prison if convicted.
He expressed “total faith” in the court as he left the Audiencia Nacional in San Fernando de Henares, near Madrid.
“I believe this is a country ruled by the rule of law, and that there will be no mob justice, which would result in a lynching,” he stated.
Several heavyweights in Spanish banking and industry have been accused of employing his services, including Francisco Gonzalez, the former CEO of BBVA bank, and Ignacio Galan, the CEO of Spain’s largest energy company, Iberdrola.
Several high-ranking politicians’ reputations have been dragged through the mud in recent years because of their alleged ties to Villarejo, including former interior minister Jorge Fernandez D?az, who is accused of attempting to defame political opponents.
Villarejo’s ties to the powerful extended to the royal palace, with the policeman secretly recording a discussion with his mistress in which she claimed he had taken money from a high-speed rail contract with Saudi Arabia, causing damage to Spain’s former monarch Juan Carlos I.
“I realized it was my responsibility to do what I did… in. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.