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Spain's biggest ever corruption trial gets under way PDF
Monday, 27 September 2010 00:00
 

By Giles Tremlett

alt  Monday 27 September 2010

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Ninety-five people are accused of running glitzy Marbella on a cash-for-votes system that amassed €670m in bribes

Giles Tremlett in Madrid   

Spain's biggest ever corruption trial kicked off this morning as 95 people accused of involvement in a network of graft in the glitzy southern resort town of Marbella began to appear court.

Two former mayors, 15 town councillors and numerous lawyers and businessmen are accused of running the town on a cash-for-votes system operated at town hall meetings. Between them they allegedly took €670m (£569m) in bribes and from municipal funds over three years.

The alleged Mr Big who ran Marbella from his private offices for more than a decade, Juan Antonio Roca, faces fines totalling some €800m and 35 years in prison sentences.

Mayors Julián Muñoz and Marisol Yagüe are among those said to have been on Roca's payroll, which extended across parties and covered more than half of the town's councillors.

These were allegedly paid for each vote at which they approved planning permits or contracts to run municipal services such as the coach station or the town's breakdown lorries. As a result, planning laws were widely flouted while the once-charming Mediterranean beach resort was carpeted with concrete.

"I don't sign a piece of paper, or even read one if I don't get money," deputy mayoress Isabel García Marcos was caught saying on one phone-tap. Police found €378,000 in €500 notes at her home.

"Roca is a man with total control over the town hall – the councillors are subordinate to him. He is the person who all developers go to in order to see their wishes satisfied," local magistrate Miguel Angel Torres said during the preparatory investigation. "Over 15 years he has gone from being on the dole to amassing tens of millions of euros."

The man who many people blame for rampant corruption in Marbella, former mayor Jesús Gil, is not in the dock. He died six years ago. Roca is currently serving a six-year sentence for a corruption case dating back to Gil's time.

The Marbella case has spawned a dozen other ongoing investigations into corruption up and down the Costa del Sol. Many involve members of Gil's now defunct political party, Grupo Independiente Liberal (or GIL).
 

Other articles:

Spain's largest municipal corruption case is underway - By Howard Brereton

The Malaya Corruption case in Marbella - Who are the main players?