Massive corruption trial opens on Spain's Costa del Sol

27th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Almost 100 people went on trial in southern Spain on Monday in a major corruption scandal that led to the dissolution of the town council in the glitzy resort of Marbella.

The scandal, which broke in March 2006, centred on the alleged payment of millions of euros (dollars) in bribes to city officials by property developers in return for planning permission.

Among the 95 defendants are two former mayors of the town on the Costa del Sol -- Julian Munoz and Marisol Yague -- and the ex-chief of urban planning Juan Antonio Roca, suspected to have been the mastermind behind the operations.

They risk sentences of 10, 20 and 30 years respectively for corruption, money-laundering and misuse of public funds.

Others on trial in the provincial court of the nearby city of Malaga include town councillors, lawyers and building contractors.

Spain's biggest property corruption trial is expected to last one year.

Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government dissolved the Marbella town council in April 2006 in the wake of the scandal and appointed an auditors' commission to take over administration of the tourism hotspot until local elections in 2007.

It was the first time since Spain returned to democracy following the death of dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975 that a government had taken such a step.

© 2010 AFP

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