By Humphrey Carter

THE former conservative President of the Balearics and Spanish government Minister for the Environment, Jaume Matas, will spend this weekend facing the prospect of bail being set at three million euros on Monday if the prosecution in the Palma Arena hearings has its way.

The anti-fraud prosecutors yesterday recommended to judge Castro, who is presiding over the hearings of alleged misappropriation of public funds, that bail for Matas be set at a record three million euros or the former leader of the Balearic Partido Popular Party, be held on remand in Palma prison.

Earlier, the prosecution submitted a 50-page dossier outlining the grounds on which it believes bail should be set so high for Matas who has this week denied any wrong doing in the allegedly corrupt construction of the Palma velodrome which ran more than 70 million euros over budget from 30 million to nearly 110 million euros.

The prosecution has not asked for any preventative measures for Matas's wife and the former President of Gesa-Endesa power company in the Balearics, Bartomeu Reus, who have also been in court this week, although it does want Matas's brother-in-law, a former treasurer of the Balearic PP, to be made to hand over his passport.

Judge Castro said yesterday that he will consider the prosecution's recommendation over the weekend and announce his decision at 10am on Monday.
In the meantime, Matas's passport has been seized although the prosecution also wants the former Balearics leader banned from leaving Spain and ordered to report to his local police station every two weeks.

Matas's legal representatives, however, deny there is any threat of their client fleeing the country, thus there is going to be no need to confiscate his passport.

On arriving in court, Matas was yet again greeted by a hail of verbal abuse from angry members of the public who have been protesting outside the Via Alemania courthouse since the hearing began on Tuesday morning surrounded by extremely tight security which was significantly stepped up on Thursday with a police helicopter patrolling the airspace above the courts.

The hearing has not only been front page news and a top TV story here in the Balearics but all across Spain.
But, the allegations of political corruption involving a former government minister and senior member of the PP have also heaped pressure on the current leader of the PP opposition party Mariano Rajoy.

He has been hounded all week to comment on the Matas affair by the media and the ruling PSOE Socialist Party and yesterday he was asked if the PP will expel Matas from its ranks.

Rajoy is continuing to dodge the issue and the PP here in the Balearics is not going to be making an official comment either until Monday.
Balearic government spokesperson and Minister for Tourism, Joana Barcelo, said yesterday that the amount of bail the prosecution has applied for indicates just how serious the allegations are.

The far-left Bloc, however, said that it hopes the prosecution has not asked for such a huge figure on the simple grounds that Matas is an important political figure.