5 Oct, 2011 @ 11:26
1 min read

‘They’ve opened a Pandora’s Box’ – Lifting the lid on Ronda corruption

By Jon Clarke and Wendy Williams

DOZENS of cases could be reopened after the recent arrest of Ronda’s former mayor Antonio Marin Lara for corruption.

While investigators have so-far been focusing on a trio of cases, sources confirmed to the Olive Press that up to 62 separate denuncias against the mayor could now be analysed.

It comes after the former PSOE mayor Lara was bailed for 150,000 euros for his involvement in a range of crimes including bribery, money laundering and perverting the course of justice.

Lara – known as ‘Toti’ – and six others were arrested last week in a series of dawn raids, dubbed Operation Acinipo, after the nearby Roman site.

Police from Malaga’s crack UDYCO fraud department have spent the last year investigating a series of cases, including the infamous Los Merinos golf development.

In particular, they believe that illegal payments were made in connection to the double golf course scheme with 800 houses, as well as a new Eroski shopping centre and a controversial stable hotel known as La Hoya del Tajo.

“The lid has come off and Toti is in big trouble,” said a town hall source. “They have opened a real Pandora’s Box and there is plenty inside it.”

He continued: “There are so many illegal buildings and even if paperwork has been destroyed they can be in trouble, as the facts are already on the ground.”

He also added that a series of hard-hitting photographs, published by the Olive Press of inside the controversial Los Merinos development, were being used by detectives.

“They were particularly interested in the destruction of thousands of supposedly protected oak trees reported by the Olive Press,” he said.

“There has been a clear breach of environmental and planning law.”

According to sources, the 62 denuncias made against the mayor by the IU party and Ecologistas en Accion, were mostly temporarily shelved due to ‘insufficient evidence’.

But because new evidence has now come to light they can be reopened.

It has emerged that the telephones of various politicians and businessmen had been tapped for up to a year to gather evidence. These could include the secretary of the PSOE party Francisco Canestro and two former councillors Maria Jose Martin de Haro and Rafael Lara, who were also arrested.

On his departure from court on bail, the ex-mayor remained defiant however. “I’m used to this sort of thing. I do not see it as worse than any of my 62 previous complaints,” he declared.

Meanwhile Ecologistas en Accion activists expressed their delight at the arrest, insisting that the area has been ‘plagued by irregularities’.

Juan Terroba, spokesman for Silvema Ecologistas en Accion told the Olive Press: “It confirms what we have been saying all along, that developments like Los Merinos were illegal.

“We have been fighting for years and no one was listening and now finally we are seeing justice. It is better late than never.”

The investigation continues.

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