THE biggest corruption case in Spanish history will finally begin this week.
Seven years after judge Mercedes Alaya first began investigating the more than 200 companies and dozens of politicians in the scandal that rocked Andalucia, those accused in the ERE scandal will have their day in court from tomorrow.
The decade-long scandal saw mostly politicians from the PSOE-run Junta embezzle public money meant for unemployed and retired workers.
In total, at least €855 million in public funds were fraudulently taken via the Junta over a decade.
The investigation had to be subdivided into multiple cases – one for each company that benefited from an irregular ERE or made an improper use of those funds – but not all are being processed at the same speed.
Some have not even had opening procedures yet and there are barely eight in process.
But tomorrow will see some 22 ministers and ex-ministers of the Junta in the dock.
A media frenzy is expected to focus on Manuel Chaves and Jose Antonio Griñan, who both served consecutive terms as leaders of the junta for a combined 23 years.
The PSOE pair will arrive at the court separately and have different lawyers, but will be seated together.
It is a PR disaster for the Socialists, with Chaves and Griñan having been icons of the party during their leadership stints.
They were activists from their teenage years and worked for labour unions under the Felipe Gonzalez government.
Chaves is facing a 10-year ban on running for public office while Griñan is looking at six years in prison and a 30-year ban on running for public office for misappropriation of public funds.
They both appeared in a Sevilla court last year over the €855 million slush fund, intended for retired workers and struggling companies.
Under Chaves’s presidency between 2001 and 2008 more than €576 million was diverted into the fund.
Chaves said at the time: “I reiterate once again that the governing councils which I presided over during my time as President of Andalucia never pushed, maintained or adopted an illegal decision.”
The possibility of seeing Griñán behind bars is said to send shudders down the backbone of Andalucian socialism.
Current PSOE leader Susana Diaz continues to support the pair, saying they did not personally benefit or become rich through the scandal.
The trial will begin in Sevilla tomorrow.