Fugitive's wife 'in danger'

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The Independent Online
THE wife of Luis Roldan, the former head of Spain's Guardia Civil and the country's most wanted fugitive, has taken refuge in the Chilean embassy in Madrid, claiming that her life is in danger, writes Leonard Doyle.

Blanca Rodriguez and Mr Roldan enjoyed a lavish lifestyle until he disappeared on the day he was to answer allegations of corruption. Now she is seeking a bolt- hole in Chile but the embassy has given assurances that she will be turned over if Madrid makes such a request, the Foreign Minister, Javier Solana, said yesterday.

Judicial officials said yesterday that she has been ordered to appear before a judge today to surrender her passport. An MP, Antonio Romero, who is sitting on a parliamentary panel investigating her husband's case, said she had assured him she would comply with the order.

Sightings of her balding 51-year- old husband have come in from various places around the world.

He has been spotted wearing a wig on a Caribbean island, swimming off a Galician beach, trafficking in weapons in Angola and talking to the military in Paraguay, according to the Spanish press.

The Roldan controversy has damaged the image of Spain's Socialist government and, with the recession and high unemployment, contributed to its poor showing in the European elections. He is alleged to have taken bribes on a huge scale while running the Guardia Civil and is accused of stealing money set aside to help the victims of Basque terrorism and to support Guardia Civil orphans. Ms Rodriguez is widely reported to have benefited from his corrupt ways. He allegedly used kickbacks on government contracts to buy her a luxury penthouse apartment and set her up with a 380,000 pesetas ( pounds 1,900) a month job as a health adviser to the guards. A medical doctor, she told the force's magazine that soldiers should make love as often as possible in the spring, because 'it's good for the complexion'.

Ms Rodriguez, who holds Spanish and Chilean nationality, claims to have evidence of government corruption and says she was under constant police surveillance and feared for her life.

'I've received threats warning me that I could suffer a traffic accident, I can't live with this pressure and police harassment.'

The Guardia Civil, wearing distinctive three-cornered hats, were once crack troops of the Franco regime. They are now responsible for fighting terrorism and patrolling the country's borders.

Despite spending eight years as head of the Guardia Civil, nobody ever discovered that Mr Roldan had amassed a personal fortune on a monthly salary of just 600,000 pesetas. He also lied about being a qualified engineer and economist.