October 28th 2008, the mayor of Bigastro was arrested by the Guardia Civil pending investigation of several cases brought against him. He was imprisoned and subsequently resigned both as mayor and member of the socialist party.
Last September, José Joaquín Moya was sentenced to seven years of ineligibility to hold public office. He, along with the secretary Antonio Saseta, sold off 35,000 sq metres of protected land at La Pedrera in 2005 without the authority of the Consell. Idearco, the company that acquired the land for 2.1 million euros, were intending to build an aparthotel with conference facilities along with a golf course on the land.
Yesterday, Moya was back in court for the second trial. This time the prosecution are asking for a 15 month prison sentence along with a further disqualification of 9 years.
The case against Moya relates to the granting of a licence to his cousin’s company (Eurener) to build a solar farm at La Pedrera in 2006. There should have been a report of community interest and a report of environmental impact completed before hand but in fact neither was completed. Bulldozers arrived to clear the ground and 7,000 sq metres of naturalised land was destroyed before Seprona (the nature conservation service of the Guardia Civil) intervened.
In reply to questioning in court about this issue, Moya replied “I do not know”, “I agree”, “If I signed…”. He claimed be unaware of any law that prevented him from granting a license and if he had known it was wrong, then he would not have signed the agreement.
When questioned by the prosecution, Moya refused to answer but instead left his lawyer to speak for him. The defence seems to rest on the belief that municipalities have the autonomy to make these sort of decisions. This may be a grey area but then Moya, who had many years in office, would have known that without the permission of Valencia, the work should not have been allowed to commence as it did.