Costa del Sol News - 16th February 2005

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Week February 10th to February 16th 2005.

NUCLEAR SUB REOPENS DEBATE

Visit of HMS Sceptre angers Spain and Gibraltar

BY DAVID EADE

AS THE COSTA DEL SOL NEWS WENT TO PRESS THE NUCLEAR SUBMARINE HMS SCEPTRE WAS DUE TO LEAVE GIBRALTAR’S NAVAL DOCKYARD AFTER UNDERGOING REPAIRS THAT LEAD TO ANGRY WORDS BETWEEN BRITAIN, SPAIN AND GIBRALTAR.
Following protests from Spain’s Foreign Minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, to the presence of HMS Sceptre in Gibraltar, his British counterpart, Jack Straw, issued a statement to the effect that the repairs were only structural, did not involve the nuclear system and that the submarine would leave on February 9. That timetable has now been confirmed by the Ministry of Defence that has now stated the work is completed and HMS Sceptre would set sail on the promised date.

FRIDAY TALKS IN THE BALANCE
There were fears that the presence of the nuclear submarine in Gibraltar could torpedo the talks scheduled for this Friday in Málaga between Spain, Britain and Gibraltar under the new accord. Joint use of Gibraltar’s airport is to top the agenda at the meeting and the PSOE spokesman for Foreign Affairs, Rafael Estrella, stated on a GBC radio that the talks should proceed as long as the submarine left on Wednesday.
In the interview, Sr Estrella accused Britain of a “lack of transparency and coherence” and said it was “cheating Spain and Gibraltar” over this issue. He also highlighted the fact that Gibraltar and Spain were united in anger at the way the submarine visit had been handled.

VISIT UPSETS GIBRALTAR
Whilst Gibraltar has indeed been upset by the visit of HMS Sceptre, chief minister Peter Caruana has been anxious to correct the impression that Spain and Gibraltar are at one in opposing the visit of submarines to the Rock. Gibraltar welcomes visits from the vessels, either as courtesy calls or for routine repairs, what has upset the Rock’s administration on this occasion is that the British government gave more information about the visit of HMS Sceptre to Madrid than it did to the colony that was hosting it.

WELCOME DEPARTURE
Meanwhile the association of town halls of the Campo de Gibraltar welcomed the news that works on the nuclear submarine HMS Sceptre had finalised and that the vessel was due to leave. It reiterated its opposition to the repairs of nuclear submarines in Gibraltar and called on the Spanish Government to include a ban on the repair of nuclear faults, during the course of Friday’s tripartite talks.

 

Spain rocked by gas heater deaths

Country stunned by Castellón tragedy

BY DAVID EADE

THE PRINCE AND PRINCESS OF ASTURIAS LED MOURNERS AT AN EMOTIONAL FUNERAL CEREMONY IN MORELLA IN CASTELLÓN ON MONDAY FOR THE 18 YOUNG VICTIMS WHO HAD BEEN SUFFOCATED TO DEATH BY THE FUMES FROM A GAS HEATER.
They had perished in their sleep after celebrating a birthday party at a rural retreat at Todolella in Castellón.
Although 2005 is only barely 40 days old the total number of people who have died this year from the same cause totals 28 with another 20 being hospitalised. Indeed on the very day that the anxious parents of the 18 youngsters were raising the alarm, as none were answering their mobile phones, the press was carrying the story of a tragedy in Granada where a man and his seven-year-old daughter died whilst camping in a caravan.
The misuse of gas heaters or faults in the heaters themselves is blamed for the majority of the deaths. The unusually high toll for 2005 is being also attributed to the recent severe cold weather, which has led to a higher use of gas heaters and other equipment of this type.

‘MUERTE DULCE’ DANGER
Forensic experts have stated that death due to suffocation in this way is known as the “muerte dulce” or sweat death. The victims are totally unaware they are in danger and enter a stupor. The inhalation of the carbon monoxide gas then provokes a paralysis in the legs so that the victims are unable to seek help. If a person is asleep then they simple die without awaking.

The authorities have warned people to be alert to the escapes of carbon dioxide from heaters in closed spaces, in rooms that do not have ventilation but especially in bathrooms. The danger in bathrooms is from the water vapour created by running a bath or having a shower that can extinguish the flame of the heater and cause the room to be quickly filled with poisonous gas.

King will be tried alone

Court upholds dropping of charges against Vázquez and Graham

By Oliver McIntyre

THE PROVINCIAL COURT LAST WEEK ISSUED A FINAL AND NON-APPEALABLE RULING FOR THE DROPPING OF CHARGES AGAINST DOLORES VÁZQUEZ AND ROBERT GRAHAM IN THE ROCÍO WANNINKOF MURDER CASE, OFFICIALLY MAKING TONY ALEXANDER KING THE SOLE SUSPECT FACING CHARGES FOR THE 1999 MURDER OF THE 19-YEAR-OLD MIJAS WOMAN.
The 60-page ruling addressed each of 67 pieces of evidence, including testimony, police reports and correspondence written by King from his prison cell, among other items, and declared that none of them established any connection between King, Vázquez and Graham in the case.

The provincial court was hearing an appeal brought by the family of the victim against a ruling by a Fuengirola court that dropped the charges against Vázquez and Graham. The provincial court’s denial of the appeal was based on two fundamental findings. One was that there was “little credibility” in the successive contradictions offered by King in his multiple statements and declarations in the case. The other was the “objective fact” that the Guardia Civil has established “no kind of direct or indirect personal, professional or economic relationship between King, Graham and Vázqez.”
Vázquez was previously convicted for the murder but the higher courts annulled her trial. When King was arrested for the 2003 murder of Sonia Carabantes in Coín and then linked to the Wanninkhof murder by DNA samples, Graham, described as an acquaintance of King’s, was initially charged with accessory after the fact. King will now be tried alone for the murder, with a trial date expected sometime later this year.

JUSTICE FINALLY DONE
For Dolorez Vázquez, last week’s ruling effectively brought to an end the four-and-a-half-year nightmarish and very public ordeal the case has been for her. Since her arrest in October 2000, she faced heavy media coverage, a trial conviction and 17 months in jail before being conditionally released when the higher courts annulled the trial. It was while she was awaiting retrial that King was arrested and connected to the case. Following the provincial court’s ruling last week, Vázquez’s lawyer, Pedro Apalategui, said: “Finally, justice has been done.”

Three britons arrested in Puerto Banús shooting

BY DAVID EADE

THE JET SET RESORT OF MARBELLA HAS HAD ITS IMAGE TARNISHED YET AGAIN BY A SHOOTING IN A BAR IN PUERTO BANÚS THAT LED TO THE ARREST OF THREE BRITONS.
According to the National Police the incident occurred at a disco-bar in the port zone. The three Britons had been thrown out of the club after they allegedly became abusive and started an argument with other customers. It is understood that the dress of a woman was torn in the incident.

A few minutes after they were expelled from the club the British trio returned armed with a gun. They opened fire several times and a 34-year-old Moroccan doorman was injured in the leg and rushed immediately to Marbella’s Costa del Sol hospital where his injuries were described as light.
As with the recent killing of a 62-year-old Italian alleged drug trafficker in Marbella it was the local police who were first on the scene. According to the force’s spokesperson the officers arrested the three Britons with the assistance of members of the public after they had attempted to flee the scene. Two were seized in the Avenida Julio Iglesias whilst the third was detained in a nearby petrol station.

CHARGES OF ATTEMPTED MURDER
The British trio aged between 37 and 43 years face charges of attempted murder. An Italian was also arrested after being accused of trying to hide the weapon used in the shooting in the interior of the disco-bar. The gun was a Czech manufactured ‘Brno’ 9mm pistol.

 

Marbella police officers arrested for theft

By David Eade

Two National Police officers stationed in Marbella have been arrested for stealing goods from the Park Lane Sport bar close to the Andalucía Plaza Hotel in Nueva Andalucía after their actions were recorded on the surveillance system.
The officers, who were dressed in uniform, are allegedly captured on the bar and cyber cafe’s cameras stealing information equipment and a TV from the establishment. They then transported their booty in a police car that was parked outside the bar.
The offence is said to have occurred around three weeks ago in the early hours of the morning. The duo arrived at the bar in their patrol car, forced the door to enter, and took their pick of the items before escaping.
The security tape documenting the thefts has been studied by a National Police internal investigations unit in Madrid. Officers from Madrid arrested both policemen and held them overnight at the Marbella Comisaría.
Following their appearance in court the two officers, who are believed to be in their 40s, were released without bail. Both are said to be highly regarded by their fellow officers and one of the arrested officers was decorated two years ago with a medal for meritorious service.

 

Vélez setback to new tranvía

By Dave Jamieson

Tender applications to operate the new light transport system between Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar have been declared void. The decision was recommended by municipal technicians after only one application was received to run the tramway, which is presently under construction. The Mayor of Vélez, Antonio Souvirón, said that the proposal received from a consortium consisting of the public transport firm Alsina Graells, Continental Rail and the construction company Sando lacked “investment in basic infrastructures” which were required in the terms and conditions of the contract.
Sr Souvirón insisted the turn of events would not delay the opening of the tranvía, and said that the Town Hall were already in touch with other interested parties and would now negotiate with them to produce a deal more advantageous to Vélez and its residents. He added that the name of the business chosen to operate the system would be made known in March. The 25-year contract on offer includes obligations to manage the tramway, acquire rolling stock, exploit the business and maintain all equipment, for which the operator will have to pay a fixed fee, estimated at 1.97 million euros, to Vélez Town Hall.

 

Gaucín ‘owned’ by foreigners

Locals priced out of the property market

BY DAVID EADE

THE MUNICIPALITY OF GAUCÍN HAS PRESENTED ITS NEW TOWN PLANNING ORDINANCE (PGOU) THAT SETS OUT TO INCREASE THE URBAN ZONES WITHIN ITS BOUNDARIES IN ORDER TO ALLOW FOR MORE DWELLINGS.
Eighty per cent of the land in Gaucín is protected, over half is now in the hands of non-Spaniards and 50 per cent is dedicated to tourism. It has an official number of just 1,900 residents and a floating population of 400 people who largely come from Britain and Germany. According to the Mayor, Francisco Corbacho, all this is reason enough to release more land for construction.

Hence the new PGOU allows for the construction of 150 protected dwellings destined especially for the young of the municipality. Due to the sale of houses and land to foreign citizens the rise in prices have put property ownership beyond the reach of Gaucín’s own younger generation. However they will be able to have one of the new housing units for just 9,000 euros. The PGOU also allows for the construction of a covered sports complex and a retirement home with between 50 and 100 places.

GOLF COURSE PROJECT
There is another project that is yet to receive the green light and it is being opposed by ecologists. This is the construction of a golf course in the southern zone of the municipality that connects directly to the Costa del Sol. However the Mayor has stated that as far as he is concerned the golf course is no more than another tourism project adding that tourism already generates 50 per cent of income of the municipality.

 

Mijas nails another illegal home

NEWS Staff Reporter

In a continuation of Mijas Town Hall’s ongoing crackdown on illegal construction, the local police last week sealed an illegal three-storey home in the La Majadilla area. According to the Town Hall, the owner of the home, which was being built on non-developable land, had ignored three orders to halt work, the first issued in April of last year.
The homeowner faces potential fines of as much as 150 per cent of the value of the 500-square-metre construction project, says the Town Hall. Further, if he fails to adhere to the sealing of the site, he could face criminal charges. In addition, under the regional land laws, the construction company performing the work could also be fined and its machinery at the site idled.

The Town Hall says fighting against illegal buildings is one of its top urban planning priorities, “given the damage they cause both to orderly development and to the pocketbooks of taxpayers.” Because such illegally built structures often lack basic infrastructure like sewage connections, “they also cause environmental problems in addition to their visual impact,” according to the Town Hall.

 

Oxford and Cambridge unite

By Dave Jamieson

It may not be the River Thames and neither Putney nor Mortlake will figure, but a rowing race in Málaga this summer will have certain very important elements from Britain’s University Boat Race members of the Oxford and Cambridge crews. A combined team of students will race against the Royal Mediterranean Club over a course of 2,000 metres in Málaga port on August 14, during the city’s annual fair.
It is well known that there exists considerable rivalry between the two universities in the event which began in 1829 and is considered to be the world’s longest surviving sporting challenge, but the friendship between a member of the Mediterranean Club and the trainer of the Oxford crew has persuaded the two to set aside their differences and work together for the event.

The race will be the centrepiece of a day which will also see a number of other competitions, and which organisers and the Town Hall hope will attract a big turn-out of spectators. The real Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on the River Thames will take place this year on Sunday, March 27.

 

Vuelta de Andalucía kicks off

Cycling race begins on Sunday in Benalmádena

BY OLIVER MCINTYRE

THE 2005 EDITION OF SOUTHERN SPAIN'S BIGGEST REGIONAL CYCLING RACE, THE VUELTA DE ANDALUCÍA, BEGINS THIS SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 13, IN BENALMÁDENA, KICKING OFF A FIVE-DAY, 800-KILOMETRE TOUR THROUGH SIX PROVINCES.
Big-name cyclists from Spain and abroad are expected to participate in the race, including representatives from the national teams of Spain, Germany, Belgium, Holland and the United States.
On Sunday morning the riders will gather at Benalmádena's Parque Paloma for the race's controlled start, or roll-out, at 10.35. The true race-start will occur 3.2 kilometres down the road, as the riders pass by the Parquesol urbanisation on the N-340a. From there, the day's 150.5-kilometre route will pass through towns like Torremolinos, Alhaurín el Grande, Colmenar, Riogordo and Triana before crossing first-leg finish line in Comares.

Monday the riders start in Antequera and will pedal 165.7 kilometres, passing through Villanueva del Trabuco and then crossing into the province of Granada and through towns like Loja, Santa Fe and Otura, ending in La Zubia-Alto Cumbres Verdes. Day three, Tuesday, kicks off in Vegas del Genil, beginning a 163.8-kilometre route that passes through Iznalloz and other towns before crossing into the province of Jaén, with riders crossing the day's finish line in Jaén city.
On Wednesday the cyclists take off from La Guardia de Jaén and race 161.6 miles, crossing into the province of Córdoba and passing through towns like Bujalance and Puerto de los Villares before crossing the Leg-4 finish line in Córdoba city. The fifth and last leg, on Thursday, starts in Sevilla and quickly crosses into the province of Cádiz as riders make the final 153.8-kilometre push, passing through Arcos de la Frontera and other towns and racing across the finish line in Chiclana de la Frontera.

Nerja moves on beach parking

By News Staff Reporter

Work has started on improving parking facilities at Nerja's biggest and most popular beach. Playa Burriana attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year, but in the peak summer months has become a nightmare for those wishing to park within reasonable walking distance. The main access road has been seriously congested on many occasions by traffic arriving and leaving encountering local buses, luxury coaches and delivery vehicles, while new yellow lines, painted along the kerb last summer, have been studiously ignored by drivers. The new project will see the development of an area to the west of the approach road, known as the "barranco de Mizo" where the land has already been cleared to allow municipal technicians to make a topographical survey of the area with a view to building a car park. It is not yet clear how many vehicles will be accommodated, but businesses along Burriana Beach have expressed relief that the Town Hall is at last taking action to relieve the area's chronic summer congestion problems. The approach road itself is also to be enhanced as part of the project, while a later phase will see the stabilisation and renovation of a high wall on its west side. The councillor for infrastructure in Nerja, José Alberto Tomé, said that the intention was to improve the aspect for visitors to the beach along the road which runs downhill from the site reserved for the town's new health centre.

Farming devastated by severe winter conditions

By Dave Jamieson

THE EXTENT OF THE AGRICULTURAL DISASTER CAUSED BY THE WORST AUTUMN AND WINTER WEATHER FOR 15 YEARS IS BECOMING CLEARER AS WELL AS A CONSEQUENT RISE IN PRICES FOR CONSUMERS WHICH HAS BECOME EVIDENT IN SHOPS AND SUPERMARKETS.
Farmers and growers have been counting the cost of the cold weather of the last week in January which brought the first frost and snow seen on the south coast of Spain for decades and which has done thousands of euros worth of damage to crops across Andalucía.

Total losses in Andalucía have been estimated at 1,420 million euros, a fifth of the sector's total value, with Málaga, Almería and Granada the worst affected provinces. 80 per cent of production in Málaga province is reported lost, with some municipalities reporting a 100 per cent loss, and with a total cost to the province of more than 179 million euros. Worst hit is the tomato with losses estimated at 21 million euros. Almería's losses are put at 648 million euros and Granada's at 200 million euros. Figures from the Union of Small Producers (UPA) suggest that the resulting economic crisis for producers will have a knock-on effect to casual employment, one estimate suggesting that 25 per cent fewer workers would be required to harvest strawberries this year. The secretary general of Málaga's UPA, José Gámez, said that along the coast, fruit and horticulture were badly affected, that in the Guadalhorce valley citrus fruits and avocados took a battering, and that in the interior, including Antequera and Ronda, it was cereal crops which suffered. "There are some farmers who have lost everything," he said. In the Axarquía, 1,400 hectares of potatoes have been destroyed with an economic loss of over 20 million euros, while crops of sub-tropical fruits, such as mangoes and avocados, have been completely destroyed. However, a motion to Vélez-Málaga's Town Council by the opposition Partido Popular to declare the area a "catastrophe zone" has been rejected. Nationally, the Council of Ministers last Friday approved a number of measures intended to provide aid to the worst hit farmers in Andalucía, the Balearics, Murcia and Valencia. Around Nerja, 60 per cent of crops were lost, affecting all varieties, especially beans being cultivated under plastic.

In the north of the province, the almond too has been hit, as trees flowered early as a result of the lack of rain, and were then attacked by frost. All produce has been wiped out in some parts of Granada's Costa Tropical, while Almería has lost almost all its crops of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, courgettes, aubergines and beans.

PRICES INCREASE
Agricultural organisations have already asked the Junta de Andalucía to take steps to control price rises in shops, which they estimate could be huge, following this winter's lack of rain and low temperatures. Asaja and UPA talked of "speculators" who have raised prices before any scarcity in supply was evident, and demanded that the Junta and central Government take better control of fluctuating prices to avoid such "abuses". The secretary general of Asaja-Andalucía, Miguel Afán de Ribera said, "The consumer is the one who pays, but the speculator benefits - not the producer." Juan Diego Pérez of the UPA said that some prices had already risen by 80 per cent.

Up to your ears in idioms

By Oliver McIntyre

Learning a new language is tough, but sometimes you've just got to take the bull by the horns. Of course, trying to find the right word or phrase in your budding foreign-language vocabulary can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. But hey, when you're in another country, you've got to at least try to pick up some of the local tongue - after all, when in Rome, do as the Romans, no?

You may have noticed that opening paragraph was up to its ears in idioms - those traditional, sometimes quirky turns of phrase that are so commonly used by native speakers of any language. Spanish-learners looking to delve into the rich array of such idioms in their new language now have an authoritative resource.
After the first printing flew off the shelves, the 'Dicionario fraseológico documentado del español actual' (roughly translated, 'Dictionary of Idioms in Modern Spanish') is now hitting local bookstores in its second printing. It is the fruit of four years of labour by its three authors, who compiled some 16,000 idioms, adages or common sayings. Each entry has an explanation of what the particular idiom means, followed by an example or two of its use, pulled from literary or journalistic works. It is an all-Spanish work, meaning it does not provide English translations or equivalents, but for intermediate or advanced Spanish-language learners, it offers an interesting glimpse into the common sayings that Spaniards use in their everyday speech. For those looking to unlock the mystery of Spanish idioms, this book really lets the cat out of the bag.