17 Guardia Civil officers are on trial this week at Malaga courts charged with accepting bribes from passengers in exchange for not opening suitcases, or helping to “speed things up” at customs.
The usual “modus operandi” of the agents was that when someone was stopped with something petty at customs (food, booze, an extra carton of fags, etc) they would hint that things could go faster in exchange for a consideration. If you get my meaning.
The case is being tried by jury, unusually for Spain, but the provincial Audience decided it couldn’t be tried by Judge alone.
The Public Prosecutor is demanding fines of up to 600€ each (wow!) and suspension for duties for up to three years.
A man described as “Asian” is also on trial accused of bribing a public official.
A number of Chinese witnesses are being called, all of whom testify that when arriving with unusual foods for the family, they were also advised to bring a crisp new €50 note to make sure the customs chap looked the other way.
The investigation started back in 2006, so we’re not talking about a rushed investigation here, after a complaint from a Norwegian passenger that they had asked him for €50 to bring in a packet of fish he knew perfectly well was legal in Spain.
Internal Affairs had the bright idea of moving one of the CCTV cameras a few inches to its left, so it was filming the officers instead of the doorway of the search room, and caught the officers on film accepting cash. They then went and installed microphones, and got the conversations on tape.