Hells Angels organized crime trial begins in Spain

MADRID (AP) — The trial of a former leader of the Hells Angels in Europe began on Monday in Madrid.

German national Frank Hanebuth is being tried alongside 49 alleged international collaborators for running a chapter of the motorcycle club on the Spanish resort island of Mallorca that was allegedly involved in organized crime. During the first brief hearing, the court read out the charges to each of the 46 defendants present in the room and ensured all understood the text. A German-language interpreter translated the charges for three German nationals who were taking part by videoconference.

The beginning of the session was delayed for four hours as some of the lawyers tried to arrange plea agreements for their defendants. It wasn’t immediately clear if Hanebuth’s lawyer was one of them.

Spanish prosecutors are seeking a 13-year prison sentence for Hanebuth on charges of membership in a criminal organization, money laundering and illegal possession of firearms. They also are demanding a $4.5 million (4.2 million-euro) fine for the money laundering charge.

Other alleged leading members are also charged with running a prostitution ring and drug trafficking, and face up to 38 years in prison.

According to the prosecutor’s indictment, the Hells Angels conducted illegal activities in Mallorca from 2009 to 2013 under Hanebuth’s leadership. He allegedly appointed members who then carried out crimes including extortion, pimping, acquiring illegal firearms and robbery in popular tourist spots.

They also moved into real estate on Mallorca and nearby island Ibiza. The accused didn’t limit themselves to riding Harley-Davidsons. One of Hanebuth’s fellow defendants has been cited as driving a Bentley at 125 mph (200 kph) in a 75-mph (120-kph) speed zone before being pulled over by police.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

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A previous version of this story has been corrected to show that Hanebuth is no longer a leader of the Hells Angels.

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