NATIONAL Police have arrested a man in Alicante, accusing him of bigamy, by marrying two different women in the space of only four days.
The marriages were apparently entered into with the sole purpose of illegally obtaining residency for his brides.
The prosecution will argue that the man was paid at least €3,000 by the first woman, said a police spokesman.
Four days after the first marriage – to an Albanian – the man married a woman from Venezuela, but the irregularity has only just been discovered (some six years after the events) when both the women, unknown to each other, went to renew their residency status.
An official picked up on the fact that in both cases the husband was the same man.
In October 2006, the 29-year-old Spanish man married the Albanian in a civil ceremony in the Madrid town of Perales de Tajuaña.
Four days later, before the first ceremony had been logged in registry rcords, he married the Venezualan in another town. The second bride was a friend and apparently no money was paid for the marriage, although it is alleged that it was entered into with the sole purpose of obtaining the woman residency.
A favour to a friend but still an illegal one, and being the second marriage, bigamous, as until overturned, the first ceremony is legal.
When by a coincidence of timing, the women had to renew their papers the irregularity came to light and the Foreigners Provincial Brigade in Alicante and the High Court in Cataluña collaborated in an investigation. Bigamy came to light. The man was arrested in his home town of Alicante.
This follows on from an incident recently in Barcelona when more than 30 people were arrested in a similar marriage of convenience scam, where EU citizens were paid up to €6,000 to marry partners from outside Europe to obtain rights of residence.
Thirty two people were arrested, including eight Spaniards and a man from Holland. Their immigrants seeking status were from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Morocco and the Dominican Republic, many of whom were also using forged passports.
The gang weren´t so professional in their preparations as suspicions were aroused amongst the civil servants presiding over the ceremonies when it seemed obvious that couples appeared to be meeting for the first time on the very day of the wedding, and in some cases couldn´t even communicate with each other as they didn´t speak the same language.
By Paul Deed