Palma.—The court case, which got underway on Monday, centres on the way that Matas recruited his former speech writer and how he was paid. The prosecution claims that journalist, Antonio Alemany, was paid in an “irregular fashion.” Matas, who also served as a Minister in former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar´s government, faces an eight year prison sentence for alleged misuse of public funds, fraud and corruption.

The focal point of the case is the construction of the Palma Arena velodrome. The project cost almost double the initial estimate and prosecutors believe that the Palma Arena was used as a “cash cow” by Matas to allegedly pay political favours and other alleged cases of wrongdoing. But Matas yesterday claimed that he knew nothing about any alleged irregularities in the payment of his former speech writer Alemany. He said that he recruited the journalist because he was well respected and that it was a political decision.

“The issue of payments is an administrative matter which I know nothing about,” Matas told the court under cross examination by the prosecutor. On Monday, Matas´ former press officer, Joan Martorell said that he had orders from the former President to give Alemany preferential treatment. He also claimed that he had drawn-up a false contract on Matas´ orders to allegedly recruit Alemany.

The owner of a leading public relations company, Miguel Romero, told the court that he also had orders from the former President to help Alemany.
In all six people are on trial including Matas, Alemany, Martorell, Romero and two other former officials in Matas´ government. So far they have all protested their innocence and have claimed that they were acting on the orders of the former President.

This is just the first of a number of cases which the prosecution has brought against Matas over charges of fraud, misuse of public funds and bribery.
Matas was President in the Balearics from 2003 to 2007.


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