Corrupt ex-minister wins dose of freedom

9th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 August 2005, MADRID- A former Spanish government minister who was jailed for embezzling EUR 4 million of public funds is being allowed six hours a day of freedom due to depression.

9 August 2005

MADRID- A former Spanish government minister who was jailed for embezzling EUR 4 million of public funds is being allowed six hours a day of freedom due to depression.

Rafael Vera, the ex secretary of state for security in the former Socialist government of Felipe Gonzalez, was convicted in 1998 of involvement in the kidnapping of a Basque businessman.

Vera and former Interior minister Jose Barrionuevo were jailed for ten years.

But after an appeal Vera was cleared of the charge.

However, he was then convicted of a new charge of embezzlement of EUR 4m of public funds in connection with the same affair.

Last year, the Supreme Court condemned Vera to seven years for the offence and after appeals failed, he began serving his jail term in April.

This week, it was revealed that the board at the Segovia prison where Vera is being kept has decided to allow him out of the prison.

The sub-delegate of the government in Segovia, Juan Luis Gordo, said Vera left the prison for the first time on Monday, from 10am until 4pm, accompanied by two escorts.

Gordo said the prison board had chosen to do this "due to the special psychological circumstances of Vera which are due to his total isolation".

He added that the board had acted "autonomously, without receiving political instructions".

It had based its decision on medical reports which showed being kept in isolation had affected Vera's physical and psychological condition.

Vera is still classified as a second degree category prisoner, which means he is not eligible for privileges such as weekends out of prison.

Vera's conviction is part of one of Spain's darkest episodes since the start of democracy in 1978, following the death of the late dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

During the 21 years which have become known as the 'dirty war', the covert anti-separatist organisation known as Gal is said to have assassinated 28 people they suspected of being ETA members between 1983 and 1987.

It was later discovered that at least a third of them had no connection to the armed group.

Gal's alleged high-ranking connections came to light after statements made by members of the Spanish security services and a determined investigation by journalists.

It was discovered that leading members of the then-Socialist government knew about, funded and, it is alleged, organised what amounted to state terrorism.

Vera and Barrionuevo, the highest-ranking officials tried for Gal connections, have always denied the charges.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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