Madiop Diagne was unable to meet the bail demand of 5,000 euros. | Julio Bastida


Fifty people have so far been arrested by the National Police in an operation against false employment contracts that were being used to obtain residence permits for Senegalese citizens. The operation started several months ago when there was a notable increase in the number of residence and work permit renewals based on contracts for domestic workers, gardeners and similar.

The police discovered that in mostly all instances the people who were hiring these employees had insufficient means to pay them or simply didn't, for instance, have gardens. It was also found that people who had obtained initial residence permits or had just renewed them had become "employers" of other Senegalese people.

Residence permits were thus being obtained in a fraudulent manner by people who were not doing the work that was claimed but who often then engaged in street selling (usually in Playa de Palma) or were moving back and forth between Majorca and Senegal in such a way that they complied with conditions to maintain the residency.

At the centre of the investigation is the Majorcan Association for Senegalese, and one of those arrested - the only one who is in custody for now - is Madiop Diagne, a leading figure in the Senegalese community who has also cultivated political links and affiliations, such as with the Catalonia Republican Left and the Obra Cultural Balear, which has awarded him a prize for his defence of the Catalan language.

Diagne appeared in court yesterday. The judge offered him the possibility of paying a 5,000 euro bail, but he said that he didn't have that sort of money and so stays in prison. Senegalese citizens who obtained residency permits with fake contracts have been charged with document falsification.

The police suggest that the association masked a "real criminal network" which ostensibly acted as a vehicle to provide advice to Senegalese citizens. Members of the association paid fees in return for this advice, which could therefore have been of a fraudulent nature. The association is said to have some 90,000 euros. Police are stressing that not all the people at the top of the association were aware of illegal acts and have been operating with purely altruistic motives.
A further line of investigation is into whether the association was using its political connections in order to obtain grants for training courses that were never given. One thing the police will want to know is what happened to these alleged grants.