FORMER mayor of Marbella Julián Muñoz has pleaded guilty to a major property development corruption scam in which Bond actor Sean Connery's wife Micheline Roquebrune has been charged.
Already sentenced over the 'Malaya case', relating to power-dealing and backhanders connected with luxury urbanisations in the Marbella area and in Los Alcázares (Murcia), Muñoz's involvement in the so-called 'Operation Goldfinger' is thought to be an extension of this.
Not only did Muñoz plead guilty, but he apologised to 'the people of Marbella' for his actions.
The greatest shock to all those watching, however, was not his admission – or that of his six councillors – but his apparent state of health.
Muñoz was led into the courtroom slowly by one of the accused parties, his former sidekick Juan Antonio Roca, and was said to be extremely thin, pale and walking with a stick.
Wearing black sweatpants instead of a suit and tie, Muñoz revealed he had revently undergone an operation to have a stent planted in his coronary artery due to heart failure.
Now that he and his councillors have pleaded guilty, they will no longer have to appear for hearings and only need to wait for the final verdict, expected to be passed in March.
José Luis Fernández Garrosa, Alberto García Muñoz and Tomás Reñones – ex-party members of Muñoz's – have been sentenced to nine months in prison, whilst Rafael González and Marisa Alcalá have been sentenced to a year and Javier Lendínez to 15 months.
None of them intend to appeal, but as the sentences are all less than two years, if their charges turn out to be a first offence they will not need to go to prison.
The trial continues for other accused parties out of the total of 16, one of whom is Roca, who faces 11 years behind bars.
He has already served 10 years out of a total of 30, and his solicitor Rocío Amigo maintains he is overdue for prison leave and that this is the third time he has been on trial for the same offence.
The Connery family connection
Investigations into two companies, Malibú, S.A. and By The Sea, S.A., the first of which owned the Connery family's own villa and both of which are linked to an urbanisation of 72 homes, centred on relations between the firms and Marbella town hall in what was dubbed 'Operation Goldfinger'.
Prosecutors believe Ms Roquebrune 'offered to cooperate with' the main suspects in the tax fraud case by agreeing to set up dormant front companies in order to launder the profits from the sales of the Malibú Apartments in the Costa del Sol town.