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Former Balearic Islands leader jailed for graft

The ex-president of Spain's tourist-heavy Balearic Islands has been sentenced to jail on corruption charges. Jaume Matas' sentence is part of a major graft case that may also implicate the son-in-law of King Juan Carlos.

Jaume Matas was sentenced to six years in prison at a court in Palma on Tuesday, after being found guilty of corruption charges.

The former Spanish environment minister was on trial because of allegations pertaining to his time as president of the Balearic Islands, a popular area for tourists including places like Mallorca and Ibiza.

Matas was found guilty of fraud, falsifying official documents, embezzlement and trafficking influence. Judges also said he paid nearly 500,000 euros ($660,000) between 2003 and 2007 to companies owned by columnist Antonio Alemany, who was also employed as Matas' speechwriter.

Alemany, meanwhile, was convicted for forgery, among other charges, and was sentenced to three years in prison.

The sprawling corruption case, which has also implicated King Juan Carlos' son-in-law, Duke of Palma Inaki Urdangarin, primarily revolves around the 100 million euro project building the "Palma Arena" sports venue on Mallorca. Urdangarin, who has denied any wrongdoing, is suspected of funneling public funds into his own pocket.

Matas served as president of the Balearic Islands twice, between 1996 and 1999 and again from 2003 to 2007. The former cabinet minister is banned form public office for 10 years as a result of the sentence, which is subject to appeal.

msh/acb (AFP, AP, dpa)