José Antonio Griñán, the former president of Spain’s southern region of Andalusia, has been sentenced to six years in prison for his role in a corruption scandal known as the ‘ERE case’.
Another former president, Grinan’s predecessor Manuel Chaves, avoided prison but has been barred from public office for nine years for perverting the course of justice.
A court in Andalusia found the two former regional leaders guilty of corruption-related crimes on Tuesday in a widespread scandal involving the Socialist (PSOE) party.
Griñán served as PSOE regional president in Andalusia between 2009 and 2013, whilst Manuel Chaves was in power between 1990 and 2009.
The ERE case is named after the Spanish term for a collective dismissal procedure (expediente de regulación de empleo – or an ERE), and the case involved allegations of illegal payments from a fund set up by the regional government to help struggling firms make severance payments to staff.
The main investigation focused on a €680-million government fund used to make payments between 2000 and 2009. The PSOE was in power in Andalusia for 36 years until December 2018, when it was finally replaced by a coalition with far-right support, following the regional elections.
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507 people were under investigation for nine years in the ERE case, with seven investigating judges overseeing many separate cases. The main case targeted Manuel Chaves and José Antonio Griñán, as well as six former department heads and 13 other former officials from the Andalusian government.
The trial took an entire year, divided into 152 court sessions. The ruling amounts to around 1,700 pages, making it similar in scope to the verdict in the Gürtel corruption case, involving the right-wing People’s Party (PP) – which was 1,687 pages long – and three times the amount taken up by the Supreme Court ruling on the Catalan Trial (nearly 500 pages).
Of the 21 defendants in the ERE case, just two have been cleared of all offences.