Mayor and urban chief in Spain accused of five planning offences

LAST UPDATED: 28 Oct, 2010 @ 18:00
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SECRETLY recorded telephone conversations have revealed the true extent of corruption in a Granada town.

Police made the recordings as part of their nine-month investigation into town planning offences in Alhendín.

Both town mayor José Guerrero and urban chief Manuel Fernández have quit their position on the town council after being charged with bribery, fraud, deception and the illegal levying of taxes.

The two former Partido Popular councillors are also accused of selling municipal land far less than its market value.

The charges relate to two huge scale building projects currently underway in the town: the Marchalhendín industrial park and the 1,400-home Novosur development alongside the Motril-Bailen N323 road.

One of the phone calls allegedly reveals a deal involving the illegal sale of plots of land in the industrial park. In it, Fernández is heard asking for more than 100,000 euros in cash for the land sold.

“If you give me 20 or 30 million [pesetas – many Spaniards still refer to the former currency when discussing large amounts or money] we will talk. If not, we won’t. Do you understand?”

In another recorded conversation, the former urban chief is heard telling a representative from FRAI, the construction company behind the Novosur development, he would “manipulate” the constructions plans to deceive military officials as cranes were invading the air space of the nearby Armilla air base.

“Instead of saying the construction measures 15 metres, we will say it measures 14.2 metres.

“Military officials are not going to measure the construction’s height,” he said.

Judges at a court in Santa Fe are also looking into claims Fernández, who was arrested at his home on March 5, wanted to approve plans for another housing development in the town even though council reports existed against the plans.

Socialist party PSOE has called the alleged town planning offences, “the greatest case of Partido Popular corruption in Andalucía.”

The two former councillors deny the charges.

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