THE Andratx Planning inspector Jaume Gibert, one of the three suspects alleged to be at the centre of the Andratx corruption scandal, was last night being held on remand in Palma prison until Monday after appearing before a preliminary hearing yesterday.
Gibert, the former Mayor Eugenio Hidalgo and the ex-Balearic Director General of Planning, Jaume Massot, all appeared in court yesterday but it was a slow process which went on into the early hours.
All three were driven in convoy from the Guardia Civil headquarters in Palma to the Via Alemania court house at 9am after having been held in custody since their arrests on Monday.
Gibert was the first to appear before the judge presiding over the case, Alvaro Latorre, and he spent a little over three hours in Court number 12.
The former Mayor, Eugenio Hidalgo, was led in to the court at 5.20pm and this second hearing was expected to continue well into the night with the Balearic planning chief Juame Massot in the court house cells waiting to be called.
Hidalgo told journalists as he was led into court that he is innocent.
The news blackout over court proceedings remains in place but Gibert's lawyer did reveal that his client maintained his innocence. Gibert has admitted to the judge that he has business interests, land and plots in the Andratx area but denied everything else, in particular that he has ever received any money illegally. The judge is accusing Hidalgo and Gibert of having allegedly accepted kick-backs of 738.000 euros in two payments from property developers in exchange for legalising projects in protected areas.
They also face charges of bribery, breaking planning laws, political favours and perverting the course of justice.
However, the judge wants to see Gibert in court again on Monday because investigators believe that significant ground is going to be covered over the next four days.
As the Bulletin reported yesterday, Interpol are checking French and Swiss bank accounts while the Guardia Civil fraud squad are progressing well here in Majorca.
The judge also wants Gibert, who he referred to as a possible obstruction to the investigation, out of the way as he does not want anything to hamper or hinder the investigation, hence the continuing new blackout.
Each of the three suspects looked tired and distraught. Gibert, who owns a property valued at half a million euros, was said to have been worn out and depressed.