The Spanish parliamentary commission on the so-called Operation Kitchen has approved the findings of its investigation this Wednesday after a year of work on this case centred on a corrupt Popular Party espionage operation which targeted the party's own former treasurer, Luis Bárcenas. Specifically, Unidas Podemos and EH Bildu members voted in favour of the text proposed by the PSOE, which concludes that the leadership of the Popular Party ordered that ex-treasurer Bárcenas be spied on in order to steal sensitive information that he held about the PP's "Caja B" - its alternative accounting records. In addition, the text states that the party's former secretary general, María Dolores de Cospedal, was fully aware of this "parapolice operation" and "reported" to former prime minister Mariano Rajoy. Although Podemos and Bildu had submitted a slightly different concluding text, together with ERC, Junts and the CUP, the former parties in the end voted in favour of the text drafted by the Socialists. Once approved, the text of the resolutions will be sent to the Congress of Deputies where it will be submitted to another vote.
PSOE, Podemos and Bildu
The commission of inquiry into the Kitchen plot gave a vote of approval to the PSOE's conclusions with 159 MPs voting in favour (that is, the PSOE, Unidas Podemos and Bildu). The PP, Vox and Ciudadanos voted against, while ERC, the PNV and the Mixed Group abstained. In total, six proposals for the conclusion to the commission had been submitted: that of the PSOE; one drafted by Podemos together with ERC, Bildu, Junts and CUP; and four others, from the PP, Vox, the PNV and Cs. Only the Socialists obtained the necessary majority. In exchange for the votes of Unidas Podemos and Bildu, the Socialists agreed to incorporate some changes in the wording and two issues from the draft presented jointly by Podemos, ERC, Junts, EH Bildu and the CUP: a demand for a review of the concession of police medals and also for the review of how reserved funds are controlled. The vote on the document by the full Congress will take place when parliamentary activity resumes after the holidays.
Thus, the commission has accepted the opinion that concludes that Operation Kitchen was pursuing evidence on the PP's illegal accounting system "that could have been in the hands of Bárcenas" aiming to "destroy or hide" this material. Crucially, the investigation adds that Cospedal, also a former Spanish defence minister, knew the facts and that she "informed" prime minister Rajoy, contrary to what the National Audience court has concluded. The text also mentions the "absolute lack of control over reserved funds" and the "waste of public money" in this operation.
According to the commission, the operation "was carried out from three headquarters: the headquarters of the Popular Party in Calle Genoa, with the knowledge of the general secretary of the party, María Dolores de Cospedal, who informed the president of the party and leader of the government, Mariano Rajoy; the headquarters of the interior ministry, with the minister Jorge Fernández Díaz who commissioned the secretary of state for security, Francisco Martínez, to set up the entire criminal operation and, at its epicenter, the deputy operational directorate of the Spanish National Police led by Eugenio Pino”.
Congress will have to approve it
This Wednesday's proceedings put an end to the Kitchen Commission, opened nine months ago in which 37 people have appeared, ten of them prosecuted in the case before the National Audience. The 26th and final session of the commission,held behind closed doors, highlighted that most of the parliamentary parties agree on the substantive background - that the espionage plot existed and the political leaders of the PP were behind it - although the groups that abstained regretted that the report did not go "further" in its conclusions. For their part, Ciudadanos justified their vote against the conclusions asserting that no proposals for measures to fight corruption have been included.
The National Audience court's investigation into the espionage case was completed in July this year with interior minister Fernández Díaz as the only member of the PP leadership who will go on to stand trial for the case.