The four hear the verdicts in court. | Alejandro Sepúlveda

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In what is a pioneering case against squatters in Mallorca, four people have been found guilty of belonging to a criminal organisation and extortion. The combined sentences for the four total eleven years and three months in prison.

The case concerns the occupation of a redeveloped, four-storey block of luxury apartments on the Carrer Emili Darder in Palma. In May 2019, squatters forced their way in to the building and occupied all four apartments (one per storey). The redevelopment had just been completed and the apartments were on the point of being handed over to the buyers.

The developer went to the building and first offered them 500 euros each to leave. This was then raised to 1,000 euros. The squatters refused to go. Desperate to be able to hand the keys to the purchasers, the developer hired a firm of private investigators in order to try and find a quick way out of the situation. In the end, the squatters were paid 8,000 euros and left.

At the trial which took place last week, the developer told the court that if he hadn't paid, he would have faced financial ruin. The leader of the squatter gang was sentenced to three years for extortion and nine months for membership of a criminal organisation. The other three were sentenced to two years and six months.