Jaume Matas, the former president of the Balearic and ex-minister in the government of former Spanish prime minister, José Maria Aznar, has until next Wednesday to find €3 million to pay his bail—the largest bail ever set in Europe for a holder of public office—or face prison (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The magistrate investigating the charges of corruption against Matas, yesterday issued a 147-page edict in which he accepted the majority of the arguments brought last week by the prosecutor in the case. According to the magistrate, José Castro, Matas is responsible for diverting €41 million from public funds with the aim of constructing the Palma Arena velodrome. He also said that the ex-president had accumulated a wealth that didn’t correspond to his level of income while his party, the Partido Popular, used public funds to finance the Balearics arm of the party, either directly or indirectly through companies contracted to work on the Palma Arena project. In total, Matas is accused of 12 different crimes which could result in a sentence of up to 64 years in prison.
This Easter holiday will see more traffic on the roads than in 2009, according to the Catalan transit department (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). According to the forecasts of the Servei Català de Trànsit, there will be an increase of six percent in the number of vehicles on the region’s roads compared to last year, caused in part by the good weather and the recent snow in the Pyrenees, which will encourage people to visit either the coastal areas or mountains of Catalunya to take advantage of the long weekend. While this divergence could result in less congestion on certain roads, as people don’t all head to the same spots, Catalunya’s main highways are likely to be subject to the usual problems: in the Costa Brava, this means the AP-7 motorway, as well as the N-340 and C-31, while in the Pyrenees difficulties are predicted on the A-2, C-14, C-16 and N-145. Last weekend, more than 500,000 vehicles headed out of Barcelona and its metropolitan area, and it is expected that between tomorrow afternoon and Friday afternoon, another 372,000 vehicles will leave the city area. Ten people died in road accidents in the first weekend of Semana Santa, the worst figure for that particular period since 2000, according to the director of the Servei Català de Trànsit, Josep Pérez Moya.
Last year, the Guàrdia Urbana in Barcelona imposed 30,000 fines on people found guilty of acts of incivisme, or anti-social behaviour (read article in Catalan here, Avui). More than 7,500 people were fined for urinating in the street while almost 22,000 were fined for drinking alcohol in a public space. So far in 2010, thousands of people have already been fined for these infractions in Barcelona: 2,412 for urinating and 6,214 for drinking. Special leaflets, issued in four different languages, have been printed and will be left in hotels to warn tourists about the chance of being fined if caught infringing the city’s ordinances on these issues.
Also in the news: Train strike affects 40 percent of regional Cercanías service (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Section of new high-tension electricity line to open in autumn (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Barcelona face Arsenal in London tonight in Champions League confrontation (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico)