The alleged kingpin of one the largest money-laundering rings broken up in Spain in recent years and 11 of his associates were freed from custody Thursday by a High Court judge.
Gao Ping, a Chinese businessman and art collector who is believed to have masterminded the criminal enterprise, his wife, his bodyguard and several top lieutenants were released because they had been held after their arrest for more than 72 hours without being brought before a judge and remanded in custody. The Spanish Constitution states that three days is the maximum length of time a suspect can be detained in police custody. The suspected head of Gao’s army of enforcers, Li Haibao, was freed with three others last week under the same criteria, leading to the appeal of other members of the organization.
On releasing Gao and his associates, Judge Fernando Andreu said that he would “comply with the decision but I do not agree with it.”
The suspects have been ordered to report to the High Court daily, provide the authorities with a residential address and have had their passports confiscated.
Operation Emperor was staged by police on October 16, leading to the arrest of over 100 suspects.