Politician fails to appear in court on mafia link charges
21 November 2007, Madrid - Antoni Fernández Teixidó, a member of Catalan coalition CIU, failed to appear in court Tuesday to answer questions over his alleged involvement with a Georgian mafia boss arrested two years ago for running an illegal immigration racket.
21 November 2007
Madrid - Antoni Fernández Teixidó, a member of Catalan coalition CIU, failed to appear in court Tuesday to answer questions over his alleged involvement with a Georgian mafia boss arrested two years ago for running an illegal immigration racket.
Teixidó, a representative for the center-right nationalist coalition in the Catalan Parliament, said he had not been notified by investigating High Court Judge Fernando Andreu of yesterday's hearing, at which prosecutors had been hoping to glean further evidence of the Georgian-Russian mafia's links to Catalan politicians and civil servants.
However, legal sources have informed EL PAÍS that he was informed of the hearing by telegram. Andreu is expected to reschedule the hearing.
The court has so far gathered ample evidence linking Teixidó to Malchas Tetruashvili, a Georgian national arrested as part of Operation Wasp in 2005 when Spanish police clamped down on Russian mafia activity across Spain.
Among documents seized by the court is a thank-you letter written by Teixidó on official paper thanking Tetruashvili for a dinner together. Investigators suspect the letter was intended to act as proof for Tetruashvili before business associates and other mafia members of his political contacts.
"It gave him a way of showing his influence to businesses and authorities. No one says thank you for a dinner in an official letter, they do it by phone," noted one source close to the investigation.
Among other allegations, prosecutors claim that Teixidó helped introduce Tetruashvili to the political contacts he needed to illegally obtain residency papers for members and employees of his mafia group. Eduardo Planells, a former Socialist deputy government delegate in Barcelona, is another suspect in the case.
Planells has admitted to prosecutors to being present at a series of meetings between Teixidó and a group of Catalan hotel and restaurant owners who claimed they were short of staff. Tetruashvili was also present, posing as the head of an NGO that claimed it could help fulfill the labor shortage by bringing in workers from Eastern Europe.
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ FRANCISCO MERCADO 2007]
Subject: Spanish news