The court in Marbella which has been looking into accusations against the Triple A animal welfare association (Asociación Amigos de los Animales Abandonados) has concluded its investigation, and the judge has issued an order for pre-trial proceedings to go ahead.
In the court order, which is dated 18 September, the judge considers that those under investigation may have committed the crimes of animal cruelty, falsifying documents, unqualified practice, misappropriation, incorrect administration, contravening the rights of workers and Social Security fraud.
In his conclusions after three years of investigation, the judge considers that from 2011 until at least 2016, when Bettina P. was president, and with the essential collaboration of other board members, there was "massive and unjustified sacrifice of animals" purely to keep costs down. He says the president would give the order for the animals to be euthanised, without any veterinary control, and she carried out the process herself despite not having the necessary knowledge. The document says she gave a lower dose of the product than recommended, but enough to cause their deaths "inexpertly, intravenously and without prior sedation", thereby subjecting the animals to a slow and agonising death which was totally unjustified, according to the judge.
The document says these animals were normally healthy and young (often puppies or kittens) and some had been taken to the centre only days or hours earlier. No reason was given for them to be put down other than lack of space.
The judge says in the court order that when Andrea D. was the vice-president of Triple A she used to select which cats were to be sacrificed "preferably black ones", and Bettina then carried out the procedure or ordered it to be done. The document does not state how many animals were put down, but refers to "a disproportionate number", mainly cats and dogs. It says there is no relationship between the number of deaths supplied by the Triple A Veterinary Service and the bodies removed by the Paraíso company for incineration.
According to the investigation, Triple A acquired large quantities of euthanasia products, initially through veterinary prescription but later by Bettina, "sometimes falsifying the signature of the assocation's vet and using their stamp". The animals that were sacrificed were reported to have died through illness.
The judge also said that at first some of the animals taken in by the association were sent to other countries for adoption, mainly Germany and Finland, and the information on the documentation they needed to leave Spain was altered. He also states that the accused sometimes removed the microchips from the animals and told owners who enquired about them that they didn't have them. The money obtained from these adoptions was not included in any accounts. The judge states that Andrea D. was responsible for these operations.
The document also states that Triple A claimed it never sacrificed animals, and it obtained donations and loans from individuals which it used for other purposes, thereby failing to comply with its statutes.
In the section of the order regarding employment and finance, the judge says the association had no type of control over accounting and money moved by bank transfers. He says there were workers with no contracts, who were paid in cash, and those who were on contract received part-payment in cash so less Social Security was paid on their declared salaries.
The lawyer acting for Social Security considers that Bettina P, Andrea D, Jan W. and Javier P. committed offences against Social Security and against the rights of the workers, and is asking for them each to be sentenced to seven years and three months in prison if found guilty. He claims some of the workers were told to say they were unpaid volunteers if there was an inspection. Between 2013 and 2016 there were 35 paid workers who were not registered with Social Security, and a similar number received payment which did not correspond to their pay slips. During this period, only a few of the association's employees were registered each year.