Spain’s ‘fainting thief’ handed serious jail time

One of Spain's most notorious bank robbers, famous for his inventive disguises, has been sentenced to 2 years and 9 months for a bank robbery in Andalusia in 2003.

Spain's 'fainting thief' handed serious jail time
El Solitario during a court hearing in 2008 in which he was found guilty of the murder of two Guardia civil agents. File photo: Jesus Diges/AFP

Jaime Giménez Arbe, popularly known as 'El Solitario'(The Solitary One), received the sentence for robbing €30,000 from a CajaSur en Pozoblanco, in Andalusia's Córdoba province.

He was found guilty of armed robbery while other charges of illegally carrying arms and forgery of official documents were dropped.

Giménez Arbe famously carried out the crime disguised with a wig, a moustache, and a fake beard.

His latest sentence will now be added to a 47-year prison sentence he received for killing two Guardia Civil officers in Navarre in 2004.

During the sentencing, 'El Solitario' denied any part in the Pozoblanco robbery and said the presiding judge should set him free immediately.

The bank robber also dismissed the other "strange accusations" levelled against him.   

El Solitario is suspected of carrying out some 30 such bank raids between 1993 and 2007.

But Giménez Arbe said he would have to be "a genuis" to have carried out all the crimes ascribed to him in the last decade.

During a recent trial for another robbery in Alcobendas (Madrid) in 2006, the criminal also caused a stir when he faked a fainting fit to buy himself time.

At the start of the hearing, the accused fell from his seat twice, prompting the judge to ask two Guardia Civil agents to hold him up.

El Solitario then spent several minuted sitting with his eyes closed in an apparently unconscious state.

His alleged dizziness was checked by a doctor, who found him to be in perfect shape.

The judge was not impressed by the accused’s theatrical behaviour, asking him to “stop faking it”.

Giménez Arbe suddenly emerged from his made-up slumber and let the judge know he thought he was going to be found guilty.

“Your honour, give me one last ciggy. You’re going to sentence me anyway,” Giménez Arbe was quoted as saying to the court in La Vanguardia newspaper.

During the verbal exchange, the judge asked Giménez Arbe to stop trying to have the last word on everything.

The accused replied that he felt like he was in the era of (former Spanish dictator) Franco.

El Solitario once spent time in a UK prison for drug trafficking. 

During a late December 2003 bank raid in the region of Murcia, Giménez Arbe is alleged to have wished customers a "Merry Christmas".

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