Ex-Guardia Civil chief dishes out more dirt

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The Independent Online
SPAIN'S Prime Minister, Felipe Gonzalez, who faces calls for his resignation or a parliamentary confidence vote after his Socialist party's European election defeat, returned from the Ibero-American summit in Colombia yesterday to yet another scandal.

Spain's most-wanted fugitive, the former Guardia Civil chief, Luis Roldan, claimed from hiding that Mr Gonzalez and the Deputy Prime Minister, Narcis Serra, had 'used me as their rubbish dump. Instead of backing me up, they crucified me'.

Mr Roldan, who is reported to be in Angola, told the daily El Mundo in a letter that he had always used 'reserved funds' - a slush fund of public money ostensibly for covert operations such as the fight against Basque terrorists - on the orders of his superiors, including the then Interior Minister, Jose Luis Corcuera.

El Mundo said Mr Roldan had delivered a letter to Mr Gonzalez, a copy of which it would publish today, in which he claimed Interior Ministry officials, including Mr Corcuera, were pocketing monthly 'parallel salaries' from the so- called secret funds of taxpayers' money. Mr Roldan admitted he had added to his civil servant's salary in the same way, because it was the norm.

Mr Corcuera, who resigned as minister last November after he criticised an unrelated law and then as an MP last month after Mr Roldan's disappearance, implied that his staff received bonuses from the would-be intelligence funds. 'If I came to the conclusion that a functionary had distinguished himself through his work, day in, day out, year in, year out, I would take the decision to give him recognition,' he said last month in response to a journalist's direct question as to whether the 'secret funds' had been used to pay parallel salaries.

Mr Roldan, head of the Guardia Civil from 1986 to 1993, was on the point of being named Interior Minister to replace Mr Corcuera in November when newspapers accused him of taking kick-backs on Guardia Civil-related construction contracts. He was sacked as Guardia Civil chief and was under investigation by a parliamentary commission when he disappeared at the end of April.

In his letter to El Mundo, Mr Roldan wrote: 'Any money was always used on the instructions of (former deputy Interior Minister Rafael) Vera, Corcuera or Serra. I didn't have to take it. They gave it to me.' He listed eight others he said had used the 'secret funds,' including the former Interior Ministry press spokesman Manuel Ballesteros and High Court investigating magistrate Baltasar Garzon.

Judge Garzon left the High Court to run for the Socialist Party in last year's elections, but resigned from parliament last month as the Socialists became embroiled in corruption scandals. El Mundo suggested that, if Mr Roldan's allegations were true, Judge Garzon may have been given the secret funds to finance personal security measures because of the dangers of his job - investigating terrorists and drug traffickers.