A SPANISH judge who absolved Sir Sean Connery of wrongdoing in an ongoing fraud probe has labelled him obstructive and ignorant.

Alfredo Mondeja made his stinging attack on the ageing actor in a lengthy court document explaining why he was eliminating him from his inquiry.

The Marbella-based investigating magistrate has announced he will continue probing Sir Sean's wife Micheline Roquebrune over the 1999 sale of the couple's former Spanish home and an allegedly fraudulent scheme to build a luxury apartment complex on the site.

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Nearly 20 people, including former town hall officials in Marbella and Sir Sean's Spanish lawyers, have already been told they will face trial.

Sir Sean, 83, was told he was in the clear after denying any wrongdoing in an affidavit he made in the Bahamas, where he currently reisdes after selling his Spanish home.

Court officials in Marbella did not receive the affidavit for more than a year and a half after Sir Sean completed it - and two and a half years after investigators sent an international 'letter of request' to the Bahamas with a list of questions for the actor and his wife.

Mr Mondeja, who threatened the couple with international arrest warrants late last year after failing to get them to testify as suspects over the property deal, said the delays were no fault of the court.

He said: "Although they may have harmed the progress of the case, it's also true that if the suspects had observed the proper rules of conduct, namely a minimum level of cooperation with the judicial authorities, the fate of those suspects would have been clarified more than two years ago."

Describing the delays as incomprehensible, he added: "Perhaps it would lead one to think that the idea was to protect or hide the acts or participation of the actor's wife, something that only harmed Sir Sean himself."

Recalling reports around the time Sir Sean was first named in the investigation nearly three years ago, that it had cost him a lucrative publicity contract, he claimed: "Such damage, if it existed, is largely down to the suspects' own slackness, a slackness that could even be described as showing little respect towards the work of the Spanish judicial system."

Sir Sean swore his affidavit insisting he was not "in any way submitting to the jurisdiction of the Spanish court or conceding the validity" of the international 'letter of request'.

Mr Mondeja said it showed "legal ignorance" and described Sir Sean's decision to wait until he and his wife were threatened with arrest warrants to swear his affidavit as "surprising".

He shelved his inquiry into the Scot after he denied any relationship with former corrupt mayors of Marbella and a jailed ex-town planning chief.

Sir Sean said he sold his shares in a firm linked to the suspect land deal to his wife in the 1980s.

Sir Sean's wife will now continue to be investigated on suspicion of fraud and planning and tax offences.

She has not at this stage been formally accused or charged with any crime.

Ms Roquebrune, Sir Sean's second wife, has previously claimed: "These allegations of money-laundering are nonsense.

"We have nothing to do with this. We sold the property and that is it."

She is understood to have ten days to appeal the decision to continue proceedings against her.