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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 April, 2004, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Spanish murder trial begins
Anthony and Linda O'Malley
Mr and Mrs O'Malley were found dead in a cellar in Spain
The trial of two men accused of murdering a Welsh couple who were househunting in Spain has started - more than a year after they were found dead.

Family and friends of Linda and Anthony O'Malley, who lived in Llangollen, north Wales, have been waiting patiently since the couple's bodies were found in the cellar of a house near Benidorm in March 2003.

The couple disappeared while taking a trip to the Costa Blanca in September 2002 to look for a holiday home.

Two men, thought to be from Venezuela, were charged with the murders and a Spanish newspaper has reported that the court proceedings have now begun.

The Costa Blanca News reported that both men had given statements and entered pleas before the residing judge.

The case has now been remitted to the Provincial Court in Alicante.

According to the paper, the judge also ordered that the murdered couple's families be advised of the proceedings and of the opportunity to bring a private prosecution against the two accused.

It had been feared that the trial of two men charged with the kidnap and murder of the couple could take more than five years to come to court because of long delays in the Spanish legal system.

Villa near Benidorm
The bodies were found at a villa near Benidorm

A report by Spain's Judicial General Council said there were nearly 1m criminal cases awaiting trial in courts across the country.

Mr and Mrs O'Malley were killed while they were house hunting in Spain in 2002.

The couple, who were originally from Liverpool, had travelled to Spain in August 2002 to go on holiday as well as looking for a retirement home on the Costa Blanca.

Mrs O'Malley, 55, was supposed to return to Wales the following month with her 42-year-old husband following later that year.

Their last conversation with a member of the family took place on 4 September 2002. They then disappeared and were the subject of a missing persons inquiry for six months.

After the O'Malleys' bodies were found in the cellar of a house near Benidorm, a post-mortem examination found that the couple had been asphyxiated and that Mrs O'Malley had been beaten before she had died.

Police believed at the time that the couple may have been tricked by an advert placed in the English-language paper Costa Blanca News offering a villa for sale.

They may have been kidnapped at the villa from where Mr O'Malley was believed to have been taken regularly to cash points and forced to hand over large amounts of money while his wife was held captive.

It is thought the couple were held for up to 15 days before they died.

Murdered couple's trial delay
01 Jan 04  |  North East Wales
Final farewell for O'Malleys
22 Sep 03  |  Wales
Murdered couple asphyxiated
28 Mar 03  |  Wales
Two quizzed over couple murders
27 Mar 03  |  Wales

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