from jail to celebrity

by | Feb 9, 2020 | challenges, Journalism, Memories

All the years I spent working as a reporter on courts, I had to deal with judges, prosecutors, Judges… and criminals.

There was one named Antonio, who had a brothel and a casino (illegal) in an unsafe quarter of the city and made a scam to steal money from the credit cards of his customers. The victims were reluctant to accuse him because they didn’t want to appear in the list of customers of his local.

But one man who lost big money decided to go to the police and denounce what was happening.

The police arrested the owner of the brothel-casino, but he paid the bail and went to the street.

The case happened years ago, when in Spain there were not trials with a popular jury, but a tribunal of three judges who took their time to deliberate and sometimes delivered the sentence a week or two weeks after the trial.
So, before they announced the sentence declaring him guilty, Antonio fled from the country.

Three years after, the Interpol arrested him in Colombia, where he had transformed himself in a representative of female models and singers. It was bizarre to see him short, thin bald, and cross-eyed, pretty ugly, escorting tall and stunning models.

Already during the trial, you could see when took the stand, that he was a snake charmer.

The Interpol sent him to the “Cárcel Modelo” jail of Bogotá, one of the most dangerous of the world, pending extradition.

Antonio began to send me letters and pictures from the jail to ask me to do something to speed the process of extradition because- he said in that jail, they killed two people a day. And he didn’t want to be the next.

He told me that he had also written to the queen asking for help.

Finally, the papers of extradition arrived. Antonio came to Spain and went to the local jail to do his time.

He had to stand a trial for fleeing. And I went to attend.

I was surprised to see that the only people who went to follow the process were ten sweet old ladies who were talking with him concerned as if he were their nephew.

I saw in the corridor the Jail’s chaplain and asked him Who those ladies were, and the answer was:

Oh! Those are volunteers. He has convinced them that he is a victim of a significant injustice, that he is an honest merchant, and they took the bait, so they are all the time giving him clothes and books and now are here to support him.

Soon after that, I went for several years to work in the States. And when I came back, What was my surprise when I found him in the cover of the magazines accompanied by beautiful models, spending lots of money, taken by all as a celebrity. The snake charmer had found a way out again. And all those people and magazine reporters around him had taken the bait.



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