Police detain councillor for alleged town planning offence

LAST UPDATED: 9 Oct, 2010 @ 09:55
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THE town planning chief of Alhendín council has been arrested on accusations of at least one town planning offence in the Andalucía town.

Manuel Fernández, a Partido Popular (PP) councillor, was detained at his home in the Granada province on the morning of March 5.

Police were unable to given any further details as the matter is under judicial restrictions. However, council sources confirmed to national newspaper El Pais that Fernández was detained in relation to alleged town planning irregularities. The sources also claimed he was arrested on charges of bribery.

Local newspapers reported the urban chief was, in fact, arrested in connection with a total of five planning offences in the town.

Fernández was arrested at his home by four plain clothes police officers and taken to the central police station in Granada. He was expected to be remanded in custody until appearing in court in Santa Fe.

The provincial PP secretary opened an internal investigation in 2006 to look into the management of the Alhendin town council after socialist party PSOE had publicly voiced their concerns over alleged irregularities in the town planning department.

The investigation, which was closed last November, found no evidence of any wrongdoing in the council department.

At the time, provincial PP politicians hit back at the PSOE party, accusing them of waging a smear campaign against the town’s council.

Alhendín council was investigated by judges at the Supreme Court of Andalucía earlier this year after an official complaint was made by officials from the PSOE party. The complaint was in relation to the Merchalhendín industrial park, which was built by the Sevilla based construction company Tarje. The socialist group allege the town hall sold the land for 16 million euros less than its market value.

It is unclear if the arrest of Fernández was in connection with the above investigation.

The underselling of municipal land in the town has been the basis of another formal complaint to the public prosecutor’s office. According to the PSOE party, the council sold land to construction company Frai for 1.2 million euros, although the market value of the land was 3.5 million euros.

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