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Acquittal brings to a close the scandal that rocked a jewelry house

Not all jurors believed "Tous son-in-law's" story of how he killed a burglar

From the first day he was arrested for murder in 2006, internationally renowned jeweler Salvador Tous and his family have always stood behind Lluís Corominas. Alba Tous, Salvador's second daughter, was with her husband Corominas on Wednesday when a nine-member jury acquitted him in the shooting death of a burglar who was trying to break into one of the Tous' homes.

In a six-to-three vote, jurors sided with his defense attorney agreeing that Corominas fired his gun in self-defense as he feared for his life.

After the Barcelona Superior Court judge allowed him to go, Corominas, who was dubbed "the Tous son-in-law" throughout this high-profile case, jumped in his car with his wife and sped away without speaking to reporters.

It is the end, for now, of a five-year emotional roller-coaster ride for a family known for their high-end jewelry, jet-set hob-knobbing, and flashy company advertising.

Prosecutors, who were asking for 11 years, will in all probability appeal the verdict. The discrepancy among jurors reveals that there were some doubts about the case. In a symbolic gesture, one dissenting juror refused to sign the jury form. Judicial sources told EL PAÍS that if the trial had been a bench trial instead of in front of a jury, Corominas would have been convicted.

The episode began on the night of December 9, 2006 when Corominas was at home with his children, who were playing and watching TV. A security guard at the Tous family's country home in Sant Fruitós de Barges outside Barcelona telephoned to tell him that two "armed burglars" had broken into the premises. It wasn't the first home invasion the Tous family had suffered.

"He asked me if I could go right away, and to bring a gun," Corominas would later testify. "We have been the victims of many burglaries, including once while we were inside with the children sleeping."

When he arrived at the house, some 700 meters from where he lived, he approached a Renault Megane with two men inside. One of the men made a sudden movement and Corominas immediately fired his semiautomatic twice, thinking that they were armed. The bullets struck Gazmend Sinani, a Kosovar Albanian, in the head. He died two days later.

At the trial, the prosecutor questioned him as to why he was in possession of an illegal type of bullet, which expands on impact. Corominas said it had been recommended by a Civil Guard friend.

The other occupant of the car, Dulji Kosum, a Serbian, dropped to the floor pleading for his life. They were unarmed.

"I just wanted to scare them in the hope that they would go away," Corominas said.

Sinani and Kosum formed part of a gang of about 14 dedicated to committing illegal home entries, according to one Civil Guard officer who testified.

Corominas spent three days in jail before he was released on bail. The Tous family immediately hired prominent Madrid lawyers to defend their son-in-law, and put to rest a scandal that never affected business.

With more than 300 stores in 34 countries, the Tous family has made a fortune in designing jewelry and other luxury products such as leather handbags, jackets and other accessories for both women and men. Among those who have appeared as the face of TOUS Jewelry are pop singer Kylie Minogue and Eugenia Martínez de Irujo, the daughter of the Duchess of Alba. Latin pop star Jennifer López will be the TOUS house's image for this year's fall-winter season.

Salvador Tous and his wife Rosa Oriol started their empire in 1965 when they inherited a jewelry repair shop in Manresa, Barcelona. The shop, which dates back to 1920, had belonged to Salvador's father. Since the company has grown, the couple's four daughters have become part of it. Rosa, the eldest, is a gemologist; Alba, the president; Laura, chief finance director; and Marta, a jewelry designer.

The company's insignia, a pudgy teddy bear, was adapted in 1985 when the mother saw a stuffed bear in a store window and she thought about having one made into a gold pendant. It has become one of the brand's biggest sellers.

In 2005, Salvador Tous stepped down and appointed his daughter Alba head of the TOUS Jewelry. He still continues to be influential in a company that started as a repair shop and has grown to be a Fortune 500 company.