Court and prosecutors call for extradition of fugitive councillor from Argentina

Carlos Fernández, between two police officers after his arrest.
Carlos Fernández, between two police officers after his arrest.
  • The prosecution believes that former Marbella councillor, Carlos Fernández, can still be tried for charges in the 'Saqueo 2' and 'Malaya' corruption cases

Carlos Fernández, the former Marbella town councillor who has been on the run from the Spanish authorities since 2006, now faces extradition from Argentina to answer charges in at least four corruption-related cases.

On Thursday the Malaga prosecution department called for Fernández to be extradited in connection with his pending charges in the Malaya corruption case in which he was accused of embezzlement and accepting bribes, as well as another two cases. It was during the Malaya police operation, which led to several former councillors being handed prison sentences, that Fernández escaped arrest and left the country.

This decision comes two days after Spain's high court, the Audiencia Nacional, said that it would call for Fernández's extradition - which still depends on the decision of the Argentinian authorities - in connection with another case, known as Saqueo 2. In this case the former councillor is accused of embezzlement and falsification of official documents.

Behind bars

Fernández was arrested in Argentina on 15 September and has been held in prison since then, awaiting a decision on his possible extradition.

According to his lawyer and brother, Antonio Fernández, he made his whereabouts known intentionally in order to bring an end to his more than ten years as a fugitive. The lawyer maintains that the legal period within which all of the crimes he is accused must be taken to court has expired, meaning that he could no longer be tried or sentenced.

His provoking his own arrest was a way, said his lawyer, of forcing the courts to declare that he could no longer be brought to justice, allowing him to return to Spain.

In the Malaya case however, which involved widespread planning corruption at Marbella town hall, the public prosecution has said that the charges of bribery against Fernández could still be answered in court. They expire, said the prosecution after 15 years, not ten as his defence believes. The former councillor could face a jail sentence of between two and six years.

In Saqueo 2 it is the magistrates at the Audiencia Nacional who have requested the former councillor's extradition. In this case, whose trial in 2013 resulted in 13 prison sentences being awarded, Fernández faced nine years behind bars. He was also ordered to pay 7.8 million euros to cover the damages caused to the town hall.

The offences date back to the mid-nineties when the GIL group, for whom Fernández was initially a councillor, was in power. Some 70 million euros were siphoned off from the town hall coffers via public companies.

Now the extradition request has to be approved at a cabinet meeting before evidence is sent to Argentina and defended by public prosecutors at a hearing.