José Hila, when still mayor, with police at the Cathedral.

18-05-2017Alejandro Sepúlveda

Over the weekend, the news broke of a secret recording made of a conversation between José Hila and a Palma police officer who has been implicated in the police corruption investigation and the Cursach case.

The recording of the informal meeting was made towards the end of 2017, by which time Hila had ceased to be the mayor of Palma. It lasts almost 22 minutes, and there is a good deal of background noise. The location was the Sant Ferran police headquarters.

Hila appears to suggest that he had been pressurised by the then investigating judge, Manuel Penalva, and the anti-corruption prosecutor Miguel Ángel Subirán (who is still the chief prosecutor for the case). This had to do with putting officers under investigation on sick leave. As mayor, Hila could do this. If he didn't, according to the recording, the judge and prosecutor would start investigating all relevant town hall employees.

On Sunday, Hila and the town hall released an official response. This stated that in no instance was any threat made by Penalva and Subirán. This was "despite the interlocutor (the police officer) having intended to provoke this (a confirmation by Hila that there was a threat or some intimidation)". The statement continued by saying that the recording had violated the police code and demonstrated a lack of ethics and professionalism. It stressed the fact that it was made by an officer who had been "condemned".

The response followed discussions between Hila, the mayor, Antoni Noguera, and the councillor for public safety (with responsibility for the local police), Angelica Pastor. The town hall concedes that there was some pressure but that Hila had not been subject to a form of extortion or blackmail.

Among the political reactions, the Partido Popular's candidate for mayor in May, the ex-mayor Mateo Isern, has observed that he is surprised that Hila should have admitted to having been put under pressure. Isern has also referred to potentially innocent people being in prison (which the recording touches on). "If he (Hila) really believes that there are innocent people, he must do what is necessary to defend them."