Stampa, first prosecutor in the ‘Villarejo case’: “He is not a legend, he has been recording everything for 40 years” | Spain | The USA Print

Prosecutor Ignacio Stampa leaves the National Court in Madrid, in October 2020.Andrea Comas

Account Ignacio Stampa, the first prosecutor of the Villarejo case, that when the Internal Affairs Unit (UAI) of the Police proceeded to the first search of the house of José Manuel Villarejo in November 2017, the retired commissioner stared at him at a certain moment. Led by the agents, the former agent had just returned home from the hospital, after supposedly faking a heart attack, when he ran into Stampa and his partner Miguel Serrano, both then assigned to the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (the former would end up being pushed aside). , promoters of the investigations that surrounded for the first time the baptized as king of the sewers of the State. “I remember when he came in. And he looks at me like (saying): “This scum, what are you doing here sitting in my house”, recalls Stampa years later, before detailing how they discovered the suspect’s secret file in a safe in his living room: “There was such a quantity computer equipment, microcassettes and things, that you say to yourself: ‘It’s true, he’s not a legend, it’s true that he’s been recording everything for 40 years.’

The words of the former member of Anti-Corruption -Serrano is still in that Prosecutor’s Office- resonate with enormous force. they do it in the podcast titled the country of demons, produced by Spotify, with the journalist Álvaro de Cózar directing and writing the script, along with Eva Lamarca. An exercise in reporting with which De Cózar, author in 2016 of V, the sewers of the State, returns to the dark figure of Villarejo, that policeman who for decades moved in the shadows. “I wanted to find a story to close the circle with,” explains the director, after the curator also appeared in three other audio series that he led: XKingabout the emeritus king Juan Carlos I; The papersabout how EL PAÍS published the Bárcenas papers in 2013 and the PP tried to eliminate evidence; and 22,424about him bankia case.

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With 10 episodes lasting about 30 minutes, Stampa assumes part of the leading role in the country of demons, whose first two chapters this newspaper has been able to listen to. The member of the public ministry, now assigned to the Madrid Prosecutor’s Office, narrates for the first time in public his experience as the first prosecutor of the Villarejo case: since Manuel Moix, then head of Anti-Corruption, commissioned it shortly after landing in this specialized area (“As soon as you arrive you know that this is a brown, a problem; and that it is not a gift. I immediately thought, why should it be They are going to give it to the last one to arrive”) until they separate him from the investigations after suffering a campaign of media harassment, in addition to attacks from the extreme right and Villarejo himself.

“It’s a story about how the system gives you an order and how it later lets you down”, sums up De Cózar about the podcast, in which the journalist goes so far as to affirm: “The system ended up swallowing the prosecutor Stampa”. In the first episodes, Stampa explains that he landed in Anti-Corruption from the small Arrecife Prosecutor’s Office (Lanzarote), where the “main cacique of the island” had already mounted a media campaign against him — “it was very painful, but that was nothing with what came to me later ”, he advances -. He believed that he would reach “the top, due to the importance of the issues that are investigated there,” but he did not imagine what was coming.

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His partner Miguel Serrano, according to Stampa himself in the podcastHe did warn me: “Miguel Serrano told me, with his own wisdom that he has shown me in this matter, two things that have come true: One, the worst is going to be friendly fire; and two, we are not going to reach the other side of the shore together.” At another time, the former Anti-Corruption prosecutor also recounts the terror that invaded Francisco Menéndez, a former client of Villarejo who dared to collaborate with the public ministry, and who provided the first documents that served to open the investigation against the commissioner: ” Menéndez shows us how afraid he is. The first thing he tells us is: ‘Do you know what you’re getting into?’, he recalls.

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Stampa’s story also focuses on one of the great moments of the investigation. That moment in which the prosecutors and Internal Affairs agents come across the safe in the Villarejo room. And they open it. And they discover that huge amount of material, which has caused the National Court to open 36 lines of investigation into the goings-on of the retired commissioner: including espionage orders from Ibex 35 companies and Operation Kitchen, the parapolice plot hatched in the Ministry of Interior to steal from the popular ex-treasurer Luis Bárcenas compromising documents that he could keep on senior PP officials. “(What it contained) was a demonstration of technological evolution: microcassettesFloppy, cds, flash drive… All! It was the whole gamut.”

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Stampa explains that, faced with such a quantity of material, a policeman looked at the prosecutors as if to say: “But, did we (take) everything? everything, everything?” And that he thought: “Yes, we have come to this. You have to take it.”

awaiting judgment

The initial investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office ended in the Central Court of Instruction 6 of the National Court, currently directed by magistrate Manuel García-Castellón. Since his arrest in November 2017, Villarejo spent more than three years in provisional prison. He was released in March 2021, given the impossibility of holding the first trial against him before completing four years of confinement – the maximum allowed by law. Finally, at the end of that 2021, he began the oral hearing against the commissioner for three of the alleged espionage assignments that he received, which was heard for sentencing in September 2022. The court has not yet issued a sentence.

“When we did V, the sewers of the State, there were a lot of things that they told me that I couldn’t include because I couldn’t prove it. But that has since been demonstrated”, relives Álvaro de Cózar. “I did not get to measure Villarejo well. For me, he is an enigmatic character. Because what did he want? Was it just for money? I do not think so. It seems to me that it is something that has more to do with power… With the power that information gives you”, adds the journalist.

The first two chapters already are available on Spotifyand every week a new installment of the podcastwhich will end on April 18.

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