Fake priest wanted to ‘save Spain’: Lawyer

A man who disguised himself as a priest to break into the home of the Spanish government's disgraced former treasurer was suffering from delusions and saw himself as 'Spain's saviour', a Madrid court heard on Thursday.

Fake priest wanted to 'save Spain': Lawyer
Olivares' lawyer said his client believed himself to be a 'modern-day Robin Hood'. Photo: Fátima Flores

Enrique Olivares broke into the house of Luis Bárcenas, the former treasurer of Spain's ruling Popular Party (PP) in October 2013.

Armed with an antique revolver and posing as a prison chaplain, he took the family of the imprisoned former treasurer of Spain's ruling Popular Party hostage for over an hour.

During the siege, he pulled out the weapon and demanded family members hand over "a pen drive to oust the government".       

Those demands came in the midst of a very high profile and long-running corruption case involving Bárcenas.

The former top official claims to have operated a secret slush fund for Spain's ruling PP before the party came into office in 2011 — allegations repeatedly refuted by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Questions also remain over whether the PP wiped hard drives at their party headquarters in Madrid to hide evidence of the so-called "second set of books". 

Bárcenas himself is appearing in court on Thursday to answer questions about the matter, after a High Court judge recently ruled there was sufficient evidence of the existence of the slush fund.  

In the case of Olivares, prosecutors are now seeking an 18-year-old jail term for the man who took Barcanas' wife and grown-up children hostage.

On Wednesday, the defendant interrupted court proceedings saying voices in "my head won't lave me in peace", a claim which experts dismissing, saying he was merely pretending. 

But the lawyer representing the false priest said the priest believed himself to be "a modern-day Robin Hood" and was indeed mentally disturbed.

While Olivares did not have a "psychotic personality" he did have a "different way of seeing and feeling things from most people", the legal representative added.

"He feels threatened by the current social reality and doesn't see it as just. He thinks that people aren't happy with the situation, but aren't doing anything.

"That's why he set himself up as a saviour," the lawyer explained.

The lawyer claims his client cannot be charged as a result.

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Parents of sick girl accused of spending appeal money on themselves

A week ago Fernando Blanco was a heroic Spanish father who raised over €900,000 for his sick daughter, but on Friday he was behind bars, an alleged fraudster accused of spending much of that cash on himself.

Parents of sick girl accused of spending appeal money on themselves
Nadia with her parents, who are accused of fraud. Photo: Blanco Grau family / Facebook

A judge in the northeastern region of Catalonia remanded him in custody on Friday and stripped his wife of custody of their child for “alleged fraud with regards to the demand for money they made for treatment for their daughter”, a court spokeswoman said.

The case of the young Nadia Nerea, who suffers from a rare, potentially life-threatening genetic disorder, had moved the country after Blanco went from one media outlet to another to publicise her case, saying a pioneering operation in Houston in the United States could save her life.

Police said on Friday in a statement that her parents had raised €918,000 ($969,000) for Nadia's treatment, but spent close to €600,000 euros of that on other things.

Blanco's story was tragic: the doctors had told him his daughter would die from trichothiodystrophy, which in mild cases only gives patients brittle hair but when severe causes delayed development, intellectual disability, and recurrent infections that can lead to death at an early age.

He would not give in, though, and said he had travelled all over the world, contacted the best specialists, including an eminent geneticist who lived in a cave in Afghanistan.

But this week, the Spanish media outlets El Pais and Hipertextual cast serious doubt on the story.

They said there was no proof of his travels, the hospital in Houston didn't exist, nor did the alleged pioneering treatment, and Edward Brown, the supposed genetics specialist who conceived it, did not appear in any registry.

On Monday, a judge launched a probe for alleged fraud.    

Two days later, police detained Blanco after he fled a police check near the border with France.

He had on him €1,450 euros in cash, two watches, various electronic devices and a blank firing gun, police said.  

Police also raided the family home in the small mountainous village of Figols d'Organya, where they found some 30 luxury watches worth €50,000, three tablet computers, high-end mobiles and marijuana.