- Interior Minister Marlaska dismisses Colonel Pérez de los Cobos, who was investigating the government’s handling of the 8-M demonstrations and Fernando Simón’s management of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska has dismissed the head of the Civil Guard Command in Madrid, Colonel Diego Pérez de los Cobos, for “loss of confidence.”
The decision was made after the minister said that he had lost confidence in his management “in recent times,” although his office refused to go into any detail.
The Civil Guard has received the news with indignation. The Professional Association of the Civil Guard say that his departure from office is due to having “complied” with the orders from the judge investigating the 8-M case, for which the Government delegate in Madrid, José Manuel Franco, has now been charged.
Sectors of the Spanish press say that he has been sacked because he is leading the investigation into both the feminist 8-M demonstration in Madrid and the handling of the pandemic by the person in charge of the Ministry of Health, Fernando Simón.
However the two investigations were ordered by Judge Carmen Rodríguez Medel, head of the 51st Court of Madrid, who is holding open proceedings, during which she instructed the Civil Guard to investigate how the health authorities and the Government Delegation acted during the early days of the pandemic.
The dismissal of Pérez de los Cobos, has been received by the Guardia hierarchy like a bomb since he is a significant figure: it was he who coordinated the entire security operation that was deployed in Catalonia during the weeks before and after the separatist referendum in 2017.
The removal of the colonel occurs in the midst of a judicial proceeding against Fernando Simón and the Government delegate in Madrid, José Manuel Franco, for having allowed 8-M, having banned a religious congress just days before. The investigation by the Madrid Command presented a report which the Investigating Court nº51 of Madrid sees as a possible crime of deception.
The investigation has found possible indications that Ministry of Health and the Government knew the severity of the virus that was already spreading uncontrollably in Spain.
Even so, they allowed 480 feminist marches to take place throughout the country, in which, according to data from the Government Delegations, more than 600,000 people took part, 120,000 in Madrid. The Civil Guard report warned that it is “safe to assume” that the marches influenced the spread of the virus.
De los Cobos is now on ‘gardening leave’, waiting to be notified of a new appointment within the Civil Guard.
This is the second Guardia boss sacked by the minister. In 2018, shortly after taking up his appointment he moved colonel, Manuel Sánchez Corbí, from the leadership of the Central Operational Unit (UCO) also for loss of confidence.