By Emma Randle
The trial of 25 people in a massive case of alleged planning fraud in Zurgena started in Almería this week, with four of the defendants pleading guilty to settle their cases.
The ‘Costurero’ case erupted in 2008 when Guardia Civil agents raided Zurgena town hall, arresting the then mayor, Cándido Trabalón, and six others and seizing computers and documents.
The case centres on allegations that town hall officials issued illegal planning licences between 2003 and 2007 and committed bribery and corruption offences.
A total of 25 people have been charged, including ex-public works councillor Manuel Tijeras, various other former councillors, council employees, architects and property developers.
As the trial commenced this week after eight years of investigation, two developers, an architect and council planning officer Carlos Domingo Berbel accepted fines and short prison sentences (which they are applying to convert to fines) to settle their cases.