Entire village suspected of mayor's murderHeh... Posted by DaveH at January 21, 2007 6:45 PM
Miguel Grima was not a well-liked man. As mayor of a tiny hamlet in the foothills of the Pyrenees in northern Spain he had ruffled a few feathers.
The farmers turned against him when he put a stop to the centuries-old custom of herding livestock through village.
The hunters got annoyed when he refused to issue them with shooting licences and the local drinkers revolted after he prevented the settlement's only bar from setting out tables on the terrace in summer.
He had repeatedly received anonymous threatening letters and reportedly told friends recently that he feared for his life and he was considering standing down as mayor of Fago at the next election.
So last Friday evening when he failed to return home from a late council meeting in a nearby town, his wife took his absence seriously and contacted police.
The next day the battered body of Mr Grima was discovered in a roadside ditch. He had been shot at least four times in the head and chest at point-blank range.
Police believe Mr Grima was the victim of a meticulously planned ambush involving at least three perpetrators and, in a move worthy of an Agatha Christie murder mystery, the police are considering the entire population of the village as suspects.
Fago, the second smallest village in the province of Aragon, comprises fewer than 90 stone-built residences tightly packed on cobbled streets around a 16th century Romanesque church, a stone's throw from the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.
Always quiet in the winter months, the place resembles a ghost town as this week the majority of the 37 permanent residents have been taken in for questioning by the police and have had to give DNA samples.
Those who own property for use as a weekend getaway or holiday home are also being sought. Although no official statement has yet been given, the Guardia Civil have indicated that they strongly believe those responsible for the murder of the 50-year-old mayor bore a grudge over his policies in the village.
There is no shortage of contenders. During his 12 years in office, the mayor, a member of the conservative Popular Party and the owner of the village's only guest house, had been involved in almost four dozen individual court cases with homeowners in Fago.
He had taken out injunctions to prevent people making home improvements and closed down a bed and breakfast because it competed for business with his own establishment.
Mr Grima had even incurred the wrath of the parents of the only two children living in the village by banning basketballs and shooting hoops in the village's only flat area - the central plaza.
The most public battle in recent times came about after the mayor imposed taxes of almost 400 euros a month on outdoor tables at Fago's only drinking establishment – the Casa Moriega bar – an amount locals consider high for an isolated village which attracts only a modest number of visitors in summer.
To protest against the prohibitively high tax, the owners of the bar hung a huge banner on the facade of the building stating: "Fago is not Madrid, not Paris, not London... Fago is not New York."
Santiago Miramar, the only villager who would comment on this week's events, said there were few in Fago who didn't consider themselves an enemy of the mayor.
"He was an unpleasant man who ran this place like his personal kingdom. He made life difficult for most of us but for a select few he made life impossible," he said.
Another villager, who refused to be named because he had been told by a judge that no one was to speak publicly while they were under suspicion, said: "Revenge is a dish best served cold. I'm not saying anything more than that."