THE town of Torrox has been left reeling after an agreement has been reached to pay compensation to an ex-councilman for wrongful dismissal.
The agreement, penned between current mayor Oscar Medina and former tax collector Antonio Barragan yesterday, promises to grant Barragan a whopping €3.5 million.
In total, the now 80-year-old Barragan will receive €4.7 million in compensation for his dismissal from his position back in 1990.
The case began 30 years ago when a Torrox plenary session, led by then mayor Ildefonso Mateos, fired Barragan for ‘abandoning his duties’ in 1989.
Barragan was told to pack his things and leave, without the contracted three months notice period, which became the costly mistake that has taken decades to reconcile.
Compensation was sought for a whopping €12 million which was later reduced to €4.7 million after the courts ruled the initial amount impossible.
Some €1.2 million was paid to Barragan as an initial settlement with the remaining €3.5 million being subject to a legal merry-go-round for the past 30 years.
Left having to clean up after a huge legal blunder, Medina stood in front of local media yesterday to announce the closure of the case and the settlement agreed to Barragan.
“Neither as mayor nor as a lawyer can I comprehend a mistake like the Barragan case,” said the visibly angry Medina.
“Not only the decision to proceed with the dismissal without notice, but the entire judicial process during these 30 years has been loaded with nonsense that has left the interests of the residents of Torrox defenseless.”
Several appeals by the Council to reduce the compensation were rejected by the Superior Court of Justice of Andalucia, favouring Barragan’s testimony.
In 1998, mayor Jose Perez even attempted to reinstate Barragan into his role as tax collector, a claim that Barragan vigorously denies.
The municipality is now left with the €3.5 million bill to be paid for over a period of six months to a ‘man that has not worked for 30 years and was dismissed due to the ineptitude of a previous government,’ said Medina.
Already suffering huge losses thanks to COVID-19, Torrox has been in the fortunate position, thanks to councillor of finance Paula Moreno, of being debt free.
But Medina assures residents to remain calm and that structures will be put into place to ease the burden of what he calls, ‘a bleeding chapter in Torrox’s black history.’