A former Murcia City parish priest has avoided time in prison after being convicted of carrying out 16 marriages of convenience between 2001 and 2012.

Fernando N was based at the Nuestra Señnora del Carmen de Santo Angel church in Murcia.

Prosecutors wanted him jailed for five years.

A plea bargain deal saw the cleric admit to faking marriage certificates and other documents in exchange for a two-year prison term.

As a first time offender, he will not have to serve time behind bars.

He will though have to pay a daily €4 fine for four months.

The priest verified unions between undocumented Nigerian men and Spanish women in the Murcia and Alicante Province areas.

The non-Spaniards paid Fernando N between €300 to €700 for his services.

In return they got a marriage certificate which they then presented to a Civil Registry office to obtain all of the legal documentation to live in Spain.

He was helped by two other people from Algeria and Sierra Leone in committing the scams.

They were both convicted and given one-year prison sentences that they will not have to serve.

They helped the priest to find Spaniards willing to put their name to a marriage of convenience.

The Public Ministry is now seeking to officially annul the 16 unions as well as examining the residency status of the spouses.

Image Credit: Cordon Press

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