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Spain court convicts 53 in corruption trial

The Spanish Provincial Court of Malaga convicted 53 people on Friday for money laundering, bribery and fraud, while 42 people were acquitted. The convicted [Diario ABC report, in Spanish] include town hall officials, lawyers and business representatives conducting business in the resort town Marbella. Former urban planning adviser Juan Antonio Roca received the harshest sentence of 11 years and a fine of €240 million (USD $320 million) for his alleged involvement in masterminding the widespread real estate and fraud in the 1990s, while former Marbella mayors Marisol Yague and Julian Munoz received much lesser sentences of six and two years. The trial, referred to as the Malaya case [Diario ABC backgrounder, in Spanish], was Spain's largest ever corruption trial after a total of 199 court sessions. Following the sentencing, Roca and Yague announced that they plan to appeal [Diario ABC report, in Spanish] the sentences.

Spain has recently been under scrutiny [El Pais report] for its increasing corruption, prompting many considering purchasing property to worry that the property was illegally obtained through local politicians accepting bribes for issuing permits. In 2006, the Madrid government placed the entire municipality under receivership for the first time in the history of the Spanish democracy after allegations of the Marbella scandal surfaced. The allegedly scheme began when Atletico Madrid soccer club owner Jesus Gil y Gil was mayor of Marbella between 1991 and 2002. Roca, who worked under Gil, claimed that he was only following the mayor's orders. Gil, who passed away in 2004, was facing numerous of allegations of corruption in dozens of other trials.

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