|Julian Munoz is one of two former mayors of Marbella standing trial [EPA]|
Spain’s biggest ever corruption trial has opened, with nearly 100 people accused of involvement in a scandal that led to the dissolution of the town council in the popular tourist resort of Marbella.
The case, which broke in March 2006, centres on the alleged payment of millions of dollars in bribes to city officials by property developers in return for planning permission in the mid-1990s.
Among the 95 defendants are Julian Munoz and Marisol Yague, two former mayors of the town on the Costa del Sol, and Juan Antonio Roca, the ex-chief of urban planning, suspected to have been the mastermind behind the operations.
They face sentences of 10, 20 and 30 years respectively for corruption, money-laundering and misuse of public funds.
Roca is the only defendant who has been jailed while awaiting the trial.
Others on trial in the provincial court of the nearby city of Malaga include town councillors, lawyers and building contractors.
The government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Socialist prime minister, dissolved the Marbella town council in April 2006 in the wake of the scandal.
Zapatero’s administration appointed an auditors’ commission to take over the running of the town until local elections in 2007.
It was the first time since Spain returned to democracy following the death of dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975 that a government had taken such a step.
The trial is expected to last a year.