• ‘Case Topillo’, is an investigation into the deterioration of the Mar Menor as a result of agricultural discharges

THE Environment Prosecutor, Miguel de Mata, has requested sentences of 21 months in prison, along with a fine of 16 months and €12 per day, for former Minister of Agriculture Antonio Cerdá.

The case comes within the framework of the ‘Case Topillo’, which is investigating the deterioration of the Mar Menor – as a result of agricultural discharges.

The public ministry reportedly requests the same sentences for the former Water Commissioner of the Segura Hydrographic Confederation (CHS), Manuel Aldeguer, now the General Director of Water in the Community of Valencia.

For both, he also requests disqualification from public office for a period of nine years.

In his brief, he pointed out that the former counsellor: “was aware of the lack of action with regard to discharges, which was shown as being done, but in reality nothing was done”, to control the discharge of nitrogenous fertilizers into the salty lagoon.

Regarding the former CHS Water Commissioner, the prosecutor said: “Despite being aware for years of the existence of numerous desalination plants operating without any authorization, which for the most part, were connected to a brine pipe that discharged directly into the Mar Menor, he did not adopt any decision for its inspection, sanction or dismantling.

“In this way he consented to an illegal situation and lack of control of discharges that collided head-on with the functions assigned to the Water Commissioner, that he himself directed.”

The CHS, assured the prosecutor, was aware of the existence of a large number of drilling and desalination plants in the Cartagena area that lacked authorisation, and that this was a major environmental problem, due to the elimination of sewage water loaded with nitrates and with high conductivity.

Demonstration amid deterioration of Mar Menor due to agricultural discharges

“It maintained a situation of conscious tolerance, and none of its managers were prepared to carry out any inspection activity on these irregular desalination actions, until December 2012″.

For the agricultural companies, the Prosecutor’s Office is recommending penalties, ranging from five months to six years in prison, together with fines reaching €1.4 million.

He added: “A good part of the surplus of agricultural nitrates have ended up deposited in the Mar Menor, through various routes”, among which he cites underground exchanges, surface contributions, direct discharges through the Rambla del Albujón and runoff caused by episodes of torrential rains.

The Secretary of Podemos has pointed out that the ‘Topillo case’ is showing that those responsible for the situation in the Mar Menor were sitting in the Ministries of the PP governments and in the CHS, something that in Podemos have been denouncing for years and that it is now confirmed with the latest resolution of the prosecutor for environmental crimes.

Meanwhile, the regional spokeswoman for Podemos, María Marín, has criticised the Popular Party for setting up the most expensive stand in history at the FITUR Tourism Fair in Madrid last week, using it to ‘attack the Government of Spain and cover up the accusations in the Topillo case’, instead of promoting the Murcian community.

It covers an area of more than 1,000 square metres and was opened by the Regional President López Miras.

The regional president took the opportunity to criticise the Government of Spain and ” evade his responsibilities” after the accusations against many former regional executive directors.

Marín denounced the expense in an “excessive stand” paid by all the people of the Region of Murcia, with the sole objective of covering up the shame of a regional government cornered by corruption.