A Partido Popular councillor in Mijas, Santiago Martín, resigned on Thursday after SUR revealed the content of conversations in which a Podemos councillor, Francisco Martínez Ávila, was offered a job in exchange for supporting a vote of no confidence in the current mayor of Mijas.
At a meeting on Tuesday, with Martín and the local PP president and former mayor Ángel Nozal, it was also suggested that Martínez Ávila, known as Curro, would not be reported for an alleged illegality in his salary paid by the town hall if he signed a motion that would put Nozal back in the mayor’s office.
The municipality is currently ruled by the centre-right Ciudadanos (C’s) party led locally by mayor Juan Carlos Maldonado. After Ángel Nozal, who was mayor between 2011 and 2015, failed to repeat his overall majority in the last elections, the PP joined forces with Ciudadanos and Maldonado became mayor.
Disagreements, however, then led to a break in the two-party pact and Ciudadanos instead went into coalition with the socialist PSOE group. They have the support of Martínez Ávila, the only CSSP (Podemos-supported) councillor, on key issues.
Tuesday’s meeting, which Martínez maintains was not the first time he has received offers from the PP, began when Santiago Martín picked up Martínez Ávila in the car park of the Parque Acuático. The first part of the taped conservation took place between the two councillors on their way to the appointment with Nozal at the headquarters of the Mancomunidad of the Western Costa del Sol, of which the former PP mayor is vice-president.
The CSSP representative expressed his concern about a court sentence that Ángel Nozal allegedly planned to use to report Maldonado for irregularities. The sentence, according to Martín handed down by the supreme court, apparently argues that a councillor who does not belong to the local government team should not be paid a salary for working full time for the town hall, unless this is approved at the first council meeting of a term of office.
Using this sentence as a precedent, the PP believes that a lawsuit could bring serious legal consequences for Maldonado, as well as for Martínez, who would, according to the PP, have to pay back around 20,000 euros to the town hall.
In exchange for signing the no-confidence vote, which would make Nozal mayor, the PP, according to Tuesday’s conversations, would keep the alleged sentence to themselves.
“I’m telling you that if Maldonado falls, this won’t come up again,” said Martín.
The subject of the vote of no confidence was discussed later during the meeting with Nozal.
“To turn the tables at the town hall, we need a motion [of no confidence],” said the former mayor.
This hypothetical no confidence vote would have taken place during the coming weeks, once the support of Martínez had been established as well as that of another councillor, Elena Abda, who is not affiliated to any party.
Santiago Martín referred to the prospect of a job before the pair parted company again in the car park.
“Don’t let me down, Curro,” said the PP councillor who stood down on Thursday. “I can guarantee you the next four years at Club La Costa, I can get it out of Ángel because he told me a year ago.” Martín added that he could expect a salary of up to 1,500 euros and implied that it was an opportunity he couldn’t afford to let pass by, as “you speak English, you’re an educated person, you want to study and go abroad, you want to do things.”
On Thursday the public prosecution department decided to open its own investigation into the ‘Caso Mijas’ to establish whether the events constitute a criminal offence.
Martínez Ávila had previously stated that he would report the PP representatives for “threats, coercion and influence peddling”.
According to the Podemos councillor, this was not the first time that he had been pressured in this way. “This was the last straw,” he said referring to when Santiago Martín first mentioned the possible legal case regarding his salary. “They’ve tried to offer me things before and this time I had to catch them out,” he added. “I felt blackmailed and I couldn’t let that happen.”