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CRIME

Man wrongfully jailed in Spain demands €10 million from gov

A Russian-American man is seeking €10 million in compensation after being imprisoned in Spain for two years despite "absolutely no evidence against him," according to the court.

Man wrongfully jailed in Spain demands €10 million from gov
File photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.

The long nightmare of a legal battle all started for the man, named as Sergii I, in 2008 when he appeared on an Interpol red alert list for a double murder dating back to 1997.

He was listed as one of two suspects in the double homicide of two Germans in a residential area in the province of Valencia, reports newspaper El Pais.

At first the Russian citizen and US resident was detained for two months in the US where he legally lived before being extradited to Spain in August of 2008.

There he spent two years in prison and two more years on conditional release, without being able to leave Valencia.

In 2012, the presiding judge decided to dissolve the jury and acquit him after finding that there was “absolutely no evidence against him”.

All the alleged evidence of the double murder had been destroyed years before after the other suspect, a Russian citizen named Vasile P., had been acquitted.

During the trial for Vasile P., who had been extradited from Switzerland, the court had also said that there was no evidence against either suspect. But the search and arrest order for both men remained in place.

The Interpol alert surfaced when the Russian-American man applied to join NATO forces. He said that he did not oppose the extradition order then because he was promised that it would be “a quick trial”.

“During the two years that I was in prison, I was not treated like a precautionary prisoner: I was in with people from [Basque militant group] Eta and I feared for my life in prison,” he said through his lawyer.

In his complaint seeking €10 million, the man argues that the Spanish justice system infringed upon his fundamental rights, that he was innocent and the whole debacle was due to judicial error.

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CRIME

Spanish police seize 4.5 tonnes of cocaine off Canaries

Spanish police announced on Saturday the seizure of 4.5 tonnes of cocaine aboard a Togolese-flagged cargo ship from Latin America which was intercepted off the Canary Islands.

Spanish police seize 4.5 tonnes of cocaine off Canaries

The “Orion V”, which transported cattle from Latin America to the Middle East, had been under surveillance for over two years and had previously been “checked and searched, but no drugs could be found inside, despite the presence of sufficient clues”, police said.

A joint naval and air operation finally made the breakthrough locating the cocaine on Tuesday, hidden in a container used to feed the cattle.

The operation mobilised among others the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre for narcotics (MAOC-N), the Togolese authorities and the Spanish police.

The 28 crew members from nine countries were arrested.

The “Orion V” was similar to another Togolese-flagged vessel, the “Blume”, which was intercepted in mid-January in the same area south-east of the Canary Islands, on which the same amount of cocaine was found.

A total of nine tonnes of drugs have been seized in January, police said in a statement.

Spain’s proximity to North Africa, a key source of hashish, and its close ties with former colonies in Latin America, the world’s main cocaine-producing region, have made it a gateway into Europe for drugs.

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