by Staff Reporter

PALMA
THE ex-mayor of Andratx, Eugenio Hidalgo, was in court again in Palma yesterday with the prosecution seeking a sentence of six years in front of Balearic anti-corruption judge, Joan Carrau.

In relation to the crime of deception for allegedly developing his own private property on protected land, the prosecution additionally seek to impose on Hidalgo a fine of 100 euros to be paid for 20 consecutive calendar months (2'000 euros). They also want the ex-mayor barred from holding public office for a period of six years.

Prosecution are seeking a similar sentence for Jaume Gibert, ex Works director on Andratx Town Council, for the part he allegedly played in the planning scandal that rocked the west Majorcan town of Andratx prior to the regional elections held in May this year. Meanwhile, for purportedly perverting the course of justice, ex Territory Planning director, Jaume Massot, stands to be sentenced to two years in prison and barred from holding public office for a period of ten years. A less harsh judgement was made on district architect Ignacio Mir who, for also having allegedly attempted to pervert the course of justice, may have to go to prison for a year and remain unable to practice in public office for ten years.

Analysing the alleged crimes and the responsibility allocated to the men in the dock, Carrau judged Gibert to be the main architect of the miscarriage of justice whilst Hidalgo was believed to have converted the blueprint into reality. The prosecutor asserted that the ex-mayor was guilty of violating urban planning laws, adding that Gibert acted as his accomplice in crime by enabling Hidalgo to “flout the system”, even though it was an integral part of his job to prevent such practices. Prosecution went on to make further demands under the Penal Code, saying that the ex-mayor should be made to demolish the buildings he had erected illegally and put back what was there in the first place.

At the opening of the Court hearing, the judge demanded bail of 90'000 euros for both Gibert and Hidalgo. Details of the case show that the ex-mayor had been the owner of a plot of land in Andratx measuring 3'035 square metres which was classifed as “rural” and as a site of countryside heritage. According to the Prosecution, these two by-laws “made it impossible” for the land to conveniently become available for a major housing development project, “seeing as what had existed there before was nothing more than a water cistern, a tool shed and agricultural implements.” On 14th February, 2003 Hidalgo had allegedly asked the Town Hall in Andraitx for a permit to extend a non-existent warehouse, presenting papers signed by agricultural engineer Gabriel Cañellas who is also implicated in the scandal. On 5th May of the same year, the Works director, in cahoots with Hidalgo, allegedly issued a document falsely testifying to the fact that an agricultural warehouse had existed on Hidalgo's plot for a period in excess of 50 years. Hidalgo then proceeded to build a house on the land.