Jesús Gil.

The flamboyant president of a major Spanish soccer team who was accused of siphoning 27 million euros ($23.96 million) in public funds from Marbella's town council said on Tuesday he was resigning as mayor of the wealthy Mediterranean resort. Jesus Gil, released from prison yesterday on bail of 700'000 euros ($621'100), told a news conference that he felt like a “political scapegoat”. “I will resign tomorrow...allowing a replacement to be named, and then hopefully they will leave me in peace,” said Gil. “How long do I have to pay? Until the prime minister tells them to stop? I am being politically persecuted and that is not a psychological complex. They are persecuting me,” said Gil. The boss of the Atletico Madrid soccer club was jailed together with six co-defendants last week and held in a Madrid prison for six days while authorities probed allegations of embezzlement and falsifying documents. All six of Gil's co-defendants held posts in the Marbella town council or have been employed by him. The court freed two last week and set bail for a further three at between 300'000 euros and 450'000 euros. Their detention came after a 14-month investigation by public prosecutors probing multi-million euro payments by the Marbella town council to four companies between 1991 and 1995. Gil is no stranger to controversy and has been involved in a string of legal battles since he took over as Atletico president in 1987. He was sent to jail in 1999 amid an investigation into Atletico's shirt sponsorship deal with the town of Marbella. He denied all allegations and was released on bail after less than a week. Earlier this month, Spain's Supreme Court banned him from holding public office for 28 years for breach of trust and influence peddling. He is appealing against the ban. Two weeks ago, in a separate case, the high court seized assets valued at $165 million before a trial related to an investigation into alleged irregularities committed during Atletico Madrid's conversion into a public limited company. Gil was first jailed in 1969 after one of his buildings collapsed, killing 58 people. He was given a five-year sentence for criminal negligence but released after just 18 months following a pardon from dictator Francisco Franco.


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