Jailed football boss to quit mayor's post

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The Independent Online

Spain's flamboyant local politician and football impresario Jesus Gil y Gil, who has been scampering ahead of the law for more than 30 years, said yesterday he would resign as Mayor of Marbella and was considering spending time in Brazil.

He declared he felt like a political scapegoat, saying: "I will resign tomorrow ... allowing a replacement to be named, and then hopefully they will leave me in peace."

Mr Gil made the announcement after spending six days in prison near Madrid accused of defrauding ratepayers in the glitzy Mediterranean resort of €27m (£17m). He was freed from jail on bail of €700,000.

He was jailed with six co-defendants, all of whom held posts in the Marbella town council or have been employed by him. The court freed two last week and set bail for a further three at between €300,000 and €450,000.

On 5 April, Spain's Supreme Court ruled he was unfit to hold public office for 28 years because of allegations of forgery and embezzlement. He is appealing against the ban.

Over the years Mr Gil has appealed against a succession of convictions over fraudulent sponsorship deals by Marbella town hall of Atletico de Madrid football club, which he owns.

Mr Gil always insisted he was the victim of political persecution by an unholy alliance of Socialists and Conservatives united against his Right-wing Independent Liberal Group (GIL). "This is not a state of law. I was led like a sacrificial lamb, like a guinea pig to the slaughter," he raged.

"I am not suffering from a complex, I really am being persecuted." He appealed to the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar, to "put a limit to this butchery, and he shouldn't hide behind the cliche that he can't interfere with the law, that's no good to me".

Mr Gil has ridden out countless legal battles since he took over as president of Atletico Madrid in 1987 through an astute blend of bullying and obfuscation.

Jailed in 1999 over Marbella's sponsorship of the club, he was freed within days, pleading a heart condition.

He was first jailed in 1969 after a shoddy apartment block he built without permission or plans collapsed, killing 58 people. He was sentenced to five years for criminal negligence, but the dictator Franco pardoned him after 18 months.