By Humphrey Carter

THE former director of Palma's EFM Municipal Funeral Service, Oscar Collado, who is being investigated for the alleged misappropriation of public funds, perverting the course of justice, falsifying documents, bribery and fraud, was yesterday ordered to be held on remand in Palma prison and denied bail.

Collado, who could face between 14 and 16 years in jail if found guilty, was questioned by the judge investigating the case for over two hours at the Via Alemanya courts yesterday and, according to his lawyer Jaime Rodriguez, answered “all of the questions” put forward by the judge and the anti-corruption prosecutor Pedro Horrach.

The judge explained that he ordered that Collado be held in prison because of his concerns that the suspect may either attempt to flee the country or “influence” other suspects and witnesses if granted bail.

This was hotly contested by Collado's defence lawyer who intends to appeal within the next three days. Rodriguez said that the chances of his client escaping are “minimal” considering that Collado, who was the director of the Municipal Funeral Services between 2003 and 2007 while Palma City Council was run by the former Partido Popular Mayor Catalina Cirer, has a “well established family life on the island with his wife and daughters”.

Collado's lawyer also revealed that the questions were particularly directed towards his client's alleged profiteering from the sale of tombs, coffins and niches at Palma cemetery.

According to the prosecution, Collado made a personal profit from manipulating bills and contracts.
These charges have been denied by Collado's lawyer who claims that, because Collado preferred to “gradually purchase coffins as opposed to making large bulk orders, there may be some kind of administrational irregularities but certainly not penal ones.” “We've got to clearly separate any administrational irregularities caused by mismanagement from any possible penal ones. There's always going to be some kind of administrational irregularities in an institution where someone has been working for 20 years,” Rodriguez said yesterday.

Another suspect, a constructor, was also questioned in the “Funeral Case” yesterday, but he was released without charge.
Collado was arrested by the National Police on Thursday and has remained in custody ever since.
The investigation was sparked after it was discovered that Collado and the former EFM vice-president had appatrently put bills for private trips totaling 7'000 euros through the municipal company's accounts.

An investigation was then launched in order to establish whether the travel bills were a one off or if there were more irregular bills and contracts.
Since the private travel trips were revealed in February, Collado and Sans have been asked to refund the money because they have been able to prove they paid for the trips themselves.

On being ordered to be held on remand, Collado suffered an anxiety attack and needed a medical examination before being taken to Palma prison's remand wing.