News - Costa del Sol Archive 2004-03-24

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive

In association with

The Costa del Sol weekly newspaper, on sale at newsagents.

Week March 18th to March th 2004.

TIDE TURNS IN SPANISH PARLIAMENT

PP ousted in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings

By David Eade

SUNDAY’S ELECTIONS SAW THE RULING PP PARTY LOSE TO THE SOCIALIST PSOE AFTER SPAIN EXPERIENCED THE BIGGEST VOTING TURNOUT EVER.
Little more than a week ago, Spain’s ruling Partido Popular was odds on favourites to win a third consecutive term in office with an overall majority. However everything changed at 07.30 last Thursday when a series of bombs blasted railway stations in Madrid, killing nearly 200 people and injuring over a thousand more.

As reported in last week’s Costa del Sol News, the authoritative CIS opinion poll had predicted that the PP would win 176 of the 350 seats in Spain’s lower house. The opposition socialist PSOE party were predicted to pick up some seats from the PP but would still be far behind with 131. PP’s new leader, Mariano Rajoy, had victory in his grasp.

‘UNEXPECTED’ PSOE VICTORY
In the event it was the PSOE party, led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, that won 42.64 per cent of the vote giving its 164 seats, up from 125 at the 2000 election but 12 less than needed for an absolute majority. The PP received 37.64 per cent of the vote and will have 148 seats, down from 183 in the last parliament. The far left IU and regional parties have taken the remaining 38 seats.

Part of the Spanish public turned against the right-wing Partido Popular after last week’s devastation in Madrid. The PP’s keenness to blame ETA for the attacks when most security experts around the world suspected al Qa’ida harmed the government’s credibility. When the government did concede that there was an Arab link it generated a backlash against its support for the Iraq War that had been opposed by a large section of the Spanish public.

CHAVES RULES IN SEVILLA
The ruling PSOE party under Manuel Chaves was predicted to win the Andalucía regional government elections. It did with 50.6 per cent of the vote giving it 61of the 109 seats in the Sevilla assembly, an increase of nine seats over 2000.
The Partido Popular suffered the national backlash in Andalucía gaining just 31.3 per cent of the vote with its number of seats dropping from 46 in 2000 to 37. The left-wing IU gained 7.4 per cent of the vote giving it six seats whilst the nationalist Partido Andalucista won 6.2 per cent support and five seats.

Andalucía’s show of solidarity

Tens of thousands protest after Madrid atrocity

By Dave Jamieson

FROM THE MOMENT THAT LAST THURSDAY MORNING’S BREAKFAST TELEVISION BROKE NEWS OF THE TERRORIST ATROCITY WHICH HIT THE CENTRE OF MADRID DURING THE RUSH HOUR, THOUSANDS ALONG THE COAST BECAME PART OF A NATIONAL OUTPOURING OF GRIEF, REVULSION AND ANGER.
Impromptu and organised gatherings in every community confirmed the strength of feeling experienced throughout the country on a day which “will enter the history of infamy,” in the words of the outgoing president, José María Aznar. Foreign residents stood alongside Spanish nationals in stunned shock as the death toll rose and the extent of the horror became clear. A crowd of more than a thousand quickly gathered outside the Town Hall of Málaga where a minute’s silence was observed at midday, many present visibly emotional, after an Extraordinary Council Session.
On Friday morning, when the death of a seven month old baby, Patricia, brought the toll to 199, the reality of the attacks was beginning to sink in, but few predicted how many would turn out that night in response to the Government’s call for solidarity.

12 MILLION PROTEST
By early evening, almost 12 million people, perhaps a quarter of the country’s population, had filled Spain’s streets and squares, led by members of the Royal family and political parties, and supported by foreign dignitaries. While over two million were estimated to have travelled to the centre of Madrid to stand quietly in the pouring rain, 700,000 gathered in Sevilla, 250,000 in Granada, 180,000 in Córdoba and 150,000 in Almería. In Sevilla, one banner read, “It’s not raining – the sky is crying.”

In Málaga, 400,000 men, women and children marched from the plaza de la Constitución, many bearing the Spanish flag with a black ribbon attached, others carrying placards.Despite the high level of emotion, the crowd eventually dispersed quietly after a wholly peaceful demonstration of a city’s indignation.

THE COSTA MOURNS
In Vélez-Málaga, 1,500 participated in a protest in the Plaza de Las Carmelitas where a five minute silence was followed by prolonged applause to demonstrate support for and solidarity with the families of the dead and injured.
Tourists joined local residents in Nerja where a crowd of 3,000 gathered in front of the Church of St Salvador on the Balcón de Europa to show respect and solidarity. Estepona suspended all leisure and sporting activities, and, along with Manilva and Casares, held an Extraordinary Council meeting to condemn terrorism.The entire Town Council of Torremolinos, along with business owners, municipal workers and a large number of residents gathered outside the Town Hall to pay homage to the dead.

In Marbella, hundreds of students gathered at midday to signal their revulsion, while by 19.00, more than 30,000 people had congregated in the Avenida del Mar with a further 10,000 in plaza de La Iglesia.
30,000 in Fuengirola, 20,000 in Antequera, 8,000 in Ronda. The numbers on the streets of Andalucía were staggering, but unimportant when set against the numbers of dead and injured in Madrid.

LOCAL GRIEF
By Saturday and Sunday, daily life was resuming and the debate on who was to blame for the week’s events was widening. However, in one small village on the border of Málaga and Córdoba provinces, that debate was overwhelmed by grief for a 30 year old, believed to be the only malagueño to die in the attack. Victoria’s parents are natives of Cuevas Bajas, north of Antequera, and were proud of their daughter’s position with the Banco de Santander near Madrid’s Atocha station. She had decided to marry her Argentinean boyfriend of four years, Fabián, and the wedding was set for July 31. Victoria visited her parents on her days off and on holidays, and was well known in the village which has fewer than 2,000 inhabitants. But on Thursday morning, she was caught in the blast at Santa Eugenia station on her way to work, dying later from her injuries.
The question asked by those who attended Victoria’s funeral on Saturday was simply, “Why?”

Psychiatrists say King not insane

News Staff Reporter

Tony Alexander King, the Brit accused of murdering two young Spanish women on the Costa, shows no signs of mental illness or lack of sanity, according to a psychiatric report drawn up by a team from Málaga’s Legal Medicine Institute (IML). The neurological and psychiatric study was undertaken by the IML team at the request of the Coín judge in charge of the Sonia Carabantes murder case.

The four-month examination began with neurological scans performed at the Hospital Clínico in Málaga, in search of any possible cerebral lesions or irregularities. The IML team then visited King on four occasions at the Alhaurín de la Torre prison to conduct psychiatric reviews. Finally, King was taken twice to the IML facilities for additional psychiatric testing, the last visit taking place on February 11. The report was submitted last week to both the Coín judge and the Mijas judge in charge of the Rocío Wanninkhof murder case.

King has previously testified that he was under the influence of alcohol and other drugs at the time of the murder of 17-year-old Sonia Carabantes in Coín. He at first admitted to that crime, as well as the 1999 murder of 19-year-old Rocío Wanninkhof in Mijas, but later retracted his confession and blamed the Mijas killing on his acquaintance Robert Graham, also British. King’s new lawyers, Javier Saavedra and Ricardo Agud, say they plan to hire their own psychiatric expert to conduct an additional analysis of their client’s mental state.

Police take down bogus 'gigolo' company

By Oliver McIntyre

Police have shut down a country-wide scam operated out of Benalmádena and Torremolinos, in which bogus companies offered 'virile men' the opportunity to make lots of money providing 'gigolo' services to wealthy women. The operation, run by a group of mostly Venezuelan individuals, advertised 'escort' positions working for the companies Servicios Araix and Isis Comunicación Integral, according to police reports. The group had 18 workers answering phone calls and luring the hopeful applicants into putting up some of their own money in exchange for the opportunity to work as an escort.
The men were instructed to deposit 300 euros as a one-year deposit or 160 euros for a shorter term. They then had to pay an additional 'service-guarantee' deposit of between 500 and 1,000 euros. The money would supposedly be returned once the service was successfully provided.

Police arrested five people in the operation, mostly Venezuelan but also including one Italian. It was the second such case in the Costa region within a month. In mid-February, police arrested nine people for their alleged involvement in a similar scam run behind the bogus company Corporación Dorex. Investigators in that case seized nearly a million euros from bank accounts in Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Marbella.

Nerja's upward growth continues

NEWS Staff Reporter

Nerja Town Hall has moved forward on the idea to permit the construction of extra storeys on some buildings. The proposal was first raised in the governing Partido Popular's election manifesto last spring as a response to a chronic lack of building land in the town centre. Municipal technicians have reported that there is not a square metre of land available, apart from the private land at Los Huertos de Carrabeo, where the annual fair is sited in October.
Last September the councillor responsible, Antonio Villasclaras, gave assurances that the unlimited addition of extra storeys would not be permitted, but suggested that residents could be allowed to add on in streets where there is an existing building two or three storeys higher than their own. He added that such a move would help to stem the flow of population away from Nerja to nearby towns such as Torrox.

Now, the Town Hall has announced that is will study the possibility of introducing such a plan in part of the old centre - bordered by Calles Castilla Pérez, Ermita, Cantarero, Protegidas, Huertos, Carabeo and the Balcón de Europa - where more than 7,000 buildings presently exist, most of them family homes. The analysis, which has a budget of 29,500 euros, is in preparation for an anticipated change to the town-planning ordinance (PGOU) in order to allow the vertical expansion. Approval will have to be sought from the Provincial Urbanisation Commission before any amendment goes ahead.

Andalucía to have the highest number of local digi

By David Eade

THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT IN MADRID HAS ALLOCATED TO THE REGION OF ANDALUCÍA THE LARGEST NUMBER OF LOCATIONS THAT CAN ESTABLISH LOCAL DIGITAL TELEVISION STATIONS.
The total number of locations in Spain is 266 of which 58 will be based in Andalucía, representing 25.6 per cent of the total. In addition to the 58 locations, the Ministry of Science and Technology has allocated 232 broadcasting frequencies to the region.

Madrid decided on allocating Andalucía 58 locations even though the regional government had asked for many more so than the entire population could receive coverage. The councillor of the Andalucía government’s presidency, Gaspar Zarrías, described the allocation to the region as ‘stingy’ and stated they would be making a strong case for it to be amended.
The regional government will be restating its argument that the number of allocations is not sufficient to meet the existing demand in zones where there are already an important number of local television stations. January 1 in 2012 is the day that all stations in the EU must switch from analog to digital transmissions. The association of municipal broadcasters in Andalucía (EMA-RTV) has warned that many existing stations in Andalucía will now be forced to close.

APPROVED LOCATIONS
As far as the Costa del Sol is concerned the approved locations in Málaga province are: Álora, Antequera, Estepona, Fuengirola, Málaga, Marbella, Nerja, Ronda and Vélez-Málaga.

In the province of Cádiz there will be stations in Algeciras, Arcos de la Frontera, Cádiz, Chiclana de la Frontera, Jerez de la Frontera, Olvera and Ubrique. Almería will have its own location along with Albox, El Ejido, Huércal-Overa and Níjar. In Granada province they will be located at Almuñécar, Baza, Granada, Guadix, Huéscar, Iznalloz, Loja and Motril.
Elsewhere in the region, the province of Córdoba will have ten locations, Jaén has been allocated seven, Sevilla eight and with Huelva receiving just four.

Brit takes to courts to recover egg collection

'Priceless' eggs were seized due to protected-species laws

By Oliver McIntyre

BRITISH CÁRTAMA RESIDENT RAYMOND JOHN CONNOR IS GOING TO COURT TO TRY TO RECOVER HIS INVALUABLE COLLECTION OF OVER 4,000 BIRD EGGS, GATHERED OVER A LIFETIME, WHICH WAS SEIZED NEARLY FIVE YEARS AGO BY THE JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA'S ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT BECAUSE IT INCLUDES EGGS OF PROTECTED OR ENDANGERED SPECIES.
Mr Connor, 72, has run out of administrative options for fighting the seizure and 90,000-euro fine that was levied on him, and now has filed a legal case to have the fine dropped and the egg collection returned. The eggs are currently being held by the University of Málaga.

The collection includes eggs gathered by Mr Connor since his childhood in places as far ranging as Poland, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Ireland, Tunisia and the Philippines, among others. There are specimens dating as far back as 1880, like the two Imperial Eagle eggs found that year in Cádiz by a Colonel Willoughby Verne. Only five of the collection's 1,258 raptor eggs are from in Spain, according to Mr Connor, and he insists that all the eggs he gathered around the world were collected with the permission of local officials. The five eggs from Spain include the two from 1880 and another three from 1907 that were also collected by a third party and came into Mr Connor's possession later on.

POSSESSION ILLEGAL
According to Mr Connor's legal claims, the pertinent Spanish and international environmental protection laws affecting some of the eggs in the collection are not applicable because they came into effect after the eggs in question were collected. Environment Department head Ignacio Trillo, however, maintains that regardless of when or by whom they were collected, the possession of eggs from protected or endangered species is illegal without the proper official authorisation, which he says Mr Connor does not have.

Protestors warn that Jimena airport would bring no

By David Eade

The 'No al aeropuerto' resident action group, formed to fight the location of the proposed 'Costa del Sol' airport at Jimena de la Frontera, has published a leaflet stating its objections to the project, with noise and pollution at the forefront.
The leaflet states that two and a half tons of contaminates would be released into the air by aircraft on a daily basis, affecting the rich arable lands of the region and the lungs of local residents. The group says the health of the young and old would be endangered. It also warns that the airport would be expected to operate on a 24-hour basis with no night curfew, and that the noise levels would be intolerable. The group predicts a high level of night flights, as tour operators and cargo companies opt for those slots because of cheaper landing fees.

The group also points out that the local road infrastructure is not capable of meeting the heavy demands of an operational airport. The leaflet cautions that the concentration of passenger coaches and oil tankers serving the airport would cause congestion and delays on the single-lane roads and increase the risk of accidents.

Another concern for the action group is the state of the Hozgarganta River, the conditions of which are about to be greatly improved due to the installation of a water-treatment plant. However, the proposed airport would likely re-pollute the river, according to the pamphlet. The airport could also threaten the future of rural tourism in the zone, which has received a massive boost in recent years from people seeking peace and tranquillity in what the group calls one of the most beautiful, natural zones in Andalucía. The action group believes that not only Jimena, but also Casares, San Martin, Sotogrande, Castellar and Gaucin, would suffer from the proposed airport.

American donation to launch Benálmadena parkinson’

By Oliver Mcintyre

BENALMÁDENA TOWN HALL HAS ANNOUNCED PLANS FOR THE CREATION OF A SPECIALISED PARKINSON’S CENTRE, KICK-STARTED BY A $1 MILLION DONATION FROM AN AMERICAN FAMILY THAT RESIDES IN THE TOWN.
The centre will be part of a network of research and treatment facilities affiliated with the US-based National Parkinson Foundation (NPF), an international research and treatment organisation focused on Parkinson’s, as well as other neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and Huntington’s.

Mayor Enrique Bolín indicated last week that, while the exact location of the future centre has not yet been established, it will almost certainly be sited near the two new hospitals currently under construction in the Finca Gilabert area between Arroyo de la Miel and Benalmádena Pueblo. It may even be connected to our housed within one of the two new facilities, he said.

According to the Mayor, the Town Hall has been working for over a year on the idea of creating a Parkinson’s centre. On a trip to the US, the Mayor met with NPF founder Nathan Slewett and discussed the possibility of Benalmádena becoming the home of the foundation’s 67th affiliated centre. Now, says the Mayor, ‘we are able to begin the creation of the centre thanks to the donation from the American family’.

MALAGA UNIVERSITY COOPERATION
The centre will be focused on treatment and in-home services, but is also expected branch into Parkinson’s-related nutritional and environmental research in collaboration with the University of Málaga. It will be the first of its kind in Andalucía and just the third Parkinson’s-focused centre in all of Spain, joining the existing ones in Navarra and the Canary Islands. There are currently about a hundred Parkinson’s sufferers in Benalmádena, according to Town Hall figures.

Army accused of destroying house martin nests

News Staff Reporter

Ronda’s agency for the environment has presented an official complaint against the Virgen de la Paz military base. It has accused it of destroying 250 house martin nests at a time when these migratory birds are returning to the area.
Officials from the agency point out that it is prohibited to destroy, damage or move the nests of wild birds including those that are empty. In addition the house martins are listed in the Andalucía catalogue of endangered species in the category of being of special interest.

Colonel Rafael Mayoral, who is in charge of the barracks, said the installations were filthy and had to be cleaned. He claimed he was a nature lover but on this occasion there was a conflict between nature and cleanliness and it is his responsibility to keep the army base clean. He added that this was almost an impossible task with around 500 nests on the site.

The house martin known as the avión común in Spanish is an abundant summer visitor to urban areas of the country. It builds its nest in the shape of a closed cup with a narrow entrance, forming colonies on buildings. Site fidelity is strong and the peak visiting period is between March and October.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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