Costa del Sol News - 24th August 2006

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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

Week 24th August - 30th August 2006

We're not flying!
Passenger security fears delay Málaga departure

By Dave Jamieson

CONTROVERSY ERUPTED AFTER PASSENGER POWER RESULTED IN THE REMOVAL OF TWO ASSIAN PASSENGERS FROM A MÁLAGA FLIGHT TO MANCHESTER.
Monarch Airlines flight ZB613 to Manchester was delayed for three hours after passengers refused to fly unless two young men of Arabic appearance were taken off the plane.
Suspicions were raised amongst fellow travellers after the two young men were spotted in the departure lounge. They were heard speaking in a language assumed to be Arabic and seen frequently checking their watches. The men were dressed in leather jackets and sweaters despite the heat, which also raised people’s suspicions. Some of the 150 passengers refused to board the flight while others were reported to have stormed off the Airbus 320 as protests grew. Finally, Málaga Airport police escorted the two men from the plane peacefully and questioned them for several hours while the plane left without them. The men were later released and flew to Manchester on another flight.
A spokesman for the airline said the men had attracted attention, adding: “The flight attendants were sufficiently concerned to alert the crew, who in turn informed the security authorities at Málaga airport.”

MUSLIM INDIGNATION
The incident has been roundly condemned by many, including Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, of the Muslim Parliament of Britain, who described it as “sad and shocking,” and called for anti-terrorism action to be intelligence-led and not based on someone’s appearance. The British Muslim MP Khalid Mahmood said, “People need to get their senses back into order. You can’t just accuse anybody who's of Asian appearance and treat them like a terrorist.”
London’s Metropolitan police chief superintendent Ali Dizaei claimed that: “This is clearly not the way forward and I think that for the first time we have seen an instance of travelling whilst being an Asian.” However, Alan Gordon, vice chairman of the Police Federation, thought that Mr Dizaei’s statements were ‘sensationalist’ and could lead to more problems in the future.

 


Hotel sector 'unhappy' with smoking laws

September 1 deadline for smoking areas in bars causes havoc

By Dave Jamieson

ANOTHER CRUCIAL DATE IN THE GOVERNMENT’S WAR ON SMOKING IS LOOMING FOR THE REGION’S BARS. FROM SEPTEMBER 1, ESTABLISHMENTS WITH A FLOOR AREA OF MORE THAN 100 SQUARE METRES WILL BE REQUIRED TO BAN SMOKERS FROM THE PREMISES UNLESS THE OWNERS HAVE INSTALLED THE INFRASTRUCTURE TO DEFINE AN AREA SPECIFICALLY FOR THEIR USE, AS REQUIRED BY LAW.
The anti-tobacco law which became effective on January 1 this year included this requirement but gave affected bar owners a period of eight months in which to make the modifications if they wished. Now, this aspect is about to become compulsory and it is its regional requirements which are causing the problems.
While the anti-tobacco law applies nationally, a decree approved by the Junta de Andalucía last month states that a smoking area must be separated by a solid material from floor to ceiling with an access door to prevent smoke entering the non-smoking zone. It also requires extractors or air cleaning machines to be fitted in smoking areas. Experts in the sector estimated that 7,500 bars, restaurants, clubs and function halls across the province of Málaga would be affected by the new regulation and would have to find the cash to make the improvements or to enforce a no smoking regime throughout their entire premises. Bars of under 100 square metres are not affected by the requirement and can choose to be smoking or non-smoking, but must display their choice on a sign at the entrance.
The president of the Association of Hotel Businesses in Málaga, Rafael Prado, says that the majority of the larger premises have taken no steps to separate off a smoking zone as defined by the Junta, and referred to the legislation as, “a barbarity.” He claims that Andalucía has taken a far stricter line on the anti-tobacco law than other regions of Spain: Madrid, he says, has not imposed such measures while Cataluña is leaving it to proprietors to decide on the best way to keep smoke away from non-smokers. Now his members are to ask the Junta for a further six months moratorium because, they say, it has been impossible to complete the required work in summer, the busiest time of year for business and the time when the professionals needed for design and construction are on holiday. In addition, they say that the work required will cost a minimum of 12,000 euros in each establishment, on top of which the space required is unavailable in many.

HEFTY FINES TO FOLLOW
Failure to either establish a non-smoking area which meets the regional regulations or alternatively ban all smoking on the premises could bring owners a fine of between 600 and 10,000 euros, depending on the gravity of the offence. And with the Junta expected to impose the regulations from the end of August, the first of these could be handed out in just eight days’ time.


Death driver held in prison

Racing Ferrari driver to face charges of manslaughter

By David Eade

AN ILLEGAL RACE BETWEEN A FERRARI AND A LAMBORGHINI ALONG THE OLD N-340 THROUGH MARBELLA ENDED IN TRAGEDY WHEN ANOTHER CAR WAS HIT RESULTING IN THE DEATH OF THE DRIVER.
The 150 kilometre an hour fun run, three times the permitted limit, ended in tragedy when the Ferrari avoided a BMW on the road and then collided with a Citroën Saxo killing the Portuguese driver. Nor was this a one-off event as it has transpired that two of the Italians involved in the race had been issued speeding tickets in Guadix in Granada province and then Sevilla within half an hour of each other just days before the death crash.
Currently in prison in Alhaurín de la Torre jail is the 19-year-old Naples driver of the Ferrari. He was ordered to be jailed by the judge, Navarro Robles, who is investigating the case. He has released two 32-year-old Italians in the Lamborghini on bail of 80,000 euros each. The Ferrari driver faces a charge of manslaughter, which could see him imprisoned for up to six years whilst the other two face prison terms of up to two years for dangerous driving offences.
Apart from the deceased driver of the Citroën Saxo there were three other people in the car all of whom suffered injuries. Two have now been released from the Costa del Sol hospital whilst the fourth remains in the medical centre's care and is described as being in a stable condition. According to police sources apart from the traffic offences none of the Italians have police records in Europe.

SECOND HIGH SPEED RACE THROUGH MARBELLA
A new high-speed race occurred in Marbella just 24 hours after the death crash in which the innocent Portuguese driver died. In the latest incident the drivers were two Arabs who were at the wheels of a Porsche and Ferrari and raced between Puerto Banús and Marbella in broad daylight.
The pair was stopped by police as they waited at traffic lights. They had raced along the road at high speeds and police believe their intervention helped avert a tragedy. Police patrols have now been increased in the area, which is used by thousands of summer visitors to the town and is home to a number of luxury hotels.


New leads in six-year-old Motril mystery

By Dave Jamieson

New leads are being followed in the case of a missing Motril girl, six years after her disappearance. New leads in six-year-old Motril mystery Eighteen-year-old María Teresa Fernández vanished on August 18, 2000, after her father dropped her at a bus stop in the centre of the town from where she planned to go to a concert. Last week it was revealed that police have opened new lines of investigation into the incident.
Her father, Antonio Fernández, said that a recent meeting with officers indicated that the matter could take a total turnaround and bring ‘a big surprise’ if the theory now being worked on bears fruit. Already, he added, a number of people have been interviewed and further clarification is expected to come from a woman, now abroad, who is to be questioned shortly.
The Police are reported to have restarted their investigation from the beginning, concentrating more on the links between the missing girl and another woman in her circle of acquaintances, and with someone else outside the circle with whom she maintained some sort of relationship.


Over 800 new parking spaces for Benalmádena

Mayor Bolín listens to residents’ requests

By David Eade

THE TOWN HALL HAS STATED THAT IT WILL CONSTRUCT 851 NEW PARKING SPACES.
As many as 149 are to be available in the Calle Las Yucas near the Hotel Balmoral, 485 in the Plaza Conjunto Almilán and a further 226 places in the Calle San Miguel close to the feria ground. The sale and promotion of the parking spaces is being undertaken by the municipal company Provise Benalmiel SL that is currently selling spaces in the Calle Las Yucas for between 30,000 and 32,500 euros.
Work on the Calle Las Yucas is due to start this month and be finished in August next year. The project in Plaza Conjunto Almilán is scheduled to start in October and be completed in January 2008. Finally the scheme for the Calle San Miguel will start this November and be handed over in February 2008. Thos cost of the parking spaces in the last two projects has not yet been calculated as the tender for works has yet to be awarded.
The mayor of Benalmádena, Enrique Bolín, has stated that there are a great number of requests from communities of residents for the town hall to create parking zones for them hence its has created a policy to construct parking zones where they can place their cars. He added that in recent years the municipality had constructed more than 800 parking spaces for both cars and motorbikes in all parts of the municipality.


Málaga hosts Vuelta de España start

Recent blood-doping scandal still fresh in organisers’ minds

By Dave Jamieson

ONE OF CYCLING’S “BIG THREE” ANNUAL RACES GETS UNDERWAY IN MÁLAGA ON SATURDAY. THE VUELTA DE ESPAÑA WHICH ATTRACTS THE SPORT’S TOP RIDERS BEGINS IN THE CITY AND CONTINUES ACROSS THE COUNTRY UNTIL SEPTEMBER 17.
Twenty-one stages and 3,129 kilometres will take competitors to the north of the country before returning to Andalucía next month when they will visit Almería and Granada ahead of the final push to the finishing tape in Madrid.
The organisers of the Vuelta, which along with the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia is amongst the sport's most important events, have announced that they will exclude any team containing riders implicated in the recent Operacion Puerto blood-doping investigation. Earlier in the summer, Tour de France officials took the same stance, which led to race favourites missing the event. The doping investigation in Spain was made public in May when the Guardia Civil raided addresses in Madrid and Zaragoza and found large quantities of anabolic steroids, equipment used for blood transfusions and more than 100 bags of frozen blood. Nine riders, including favourites Jan Ullrich of Germany, Italian Ivan Basso and Spain's Francisco Mancebo, were withdrawn from the Tour de France on the eve of the race in July after being linked to the investigation.
Spain’s Vuelta was first held in 1935 and annually since 1955. Málaga has featured on the tour twice in recent years, in 2000 and 2004. The overall leader wears the “Jersey de Oro” (Gold Jersey), the Spanish equivalent of the Tour de France’s yellow jersey. Other jerseys are awarded to the best climber (the King of the Mountains) and to the best sprinter who wears a blue jersey with a yellow fish, sponsored by the fishing and marine industry. The record for most wins is held jointly by Switzerland's Tony Rominger, who won three consecutive Vueltas in 1992, 1993 and 1994, and Roberto Heras of Spain, winner in 2000, 2003 and 2004. Heras also won last year’s event, but was disqualified after a drug test, finalized in November, showed a positive test for EPO (erythropoietin, a banned drug which increases endurance by ten per cent) from the day of the Stage 20 time trial. He was stripped of his 2005 Vuelta win and has been fired from his team but has vowed to appeal. The Vuelta victory was awarded instead to Russian rider Denis Menchov.

SATURDAY DATE FOR MÁLAGA CYCLING FANS
On Saturday, a team time trial of 7.2 kilometres will be run across Málaga. The first riders are expected to leave the José María Martín Carpena sports stadium at 18.30 with teams departing every four minutes. They will pass along the Paseo Marítimo and Avenida Manuel Agustín Heredia, then through Plaza de la Marina towards the Stage One finish at Paseo de los Curas with the last arrivals expected through the finish line just after 20.00. On Sunday, riders will travel north leaving Málaga and covering the 167 kilometres to Córdoba.


No satisfaction for stones fans in Almería

By Dave Jamieson

THE DECISION BY THE ROLLING STONES TO CANCEL FOUR CONCERTS IN SPAIN HAS BEEN SEVERELY CRITICISED BY THE PRESS.
The final cancellation came last week in Almería when Wednesday’s date on their “A Bigger Bang” European tour was called off at the last minute.
Disappointment was especially high in the province after the town of El Ejido had invested 3.6 million euros to get the band there. The mayor, Juan Enciso, had aimed to use the event to improve the image of the municipality which made headlines worldwide a few years ago after a series of racially-motivated attacks on immigrants. Over 50,000 tickets had been sold for the performance which was due to have been held in the Santo Domingo municipal stadium, but the mayor said that after 20 trucks had arrived carrying lighting, sound and pyrotechnic equipment, workers began constructing the stage and lighting gantries. Then, at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, the day before the event, they were instructed to begin dismantling it.
On Monday of last week, the Stones cancelled a concert in Valladolid hours before it was due to start but promised that El Ejido would go ahead with “100 per cent certainty.” However, it was cancelled less than 24 hours later with the blame placed on Mick Jagger’s continuing laryngitis. Two concerts in Barcelona and Madrid were cancelled in May after guitarist Keith Richards fell out of a tree and suffered head injuries while on holiday in the Fiji Islands.

SPANISH PRESS UPSET
“The Stones are sticking their tongues out at Spain,” said El Periodico while El Mundo advised the band “to retire from the stage before their long-suffering fans are sick of them.” La Voz de Galicia accused them of greed and taking on too much while El Pais went so far as to claim that the laryngitis attributed to 63 year old Jagger was simply “a pretext”. However, a representative of Music Frog, the company which promoted the concerts, defended the band, adding that “even Mick Jagger has the right to be ill.”


'Karlos' fraud suspects released on bail

By David Eade

THE FORMER CHIEF OF UBRIQUE’S LOCAL POLICE FORCE, CARLOS CARRETERO, AND MEDICAL INSPECTOR FRANCISCO CASTO PÉREZ HAVE BEEN RELEASED FROM PRISON ON BAIL AFTER A COURT DECIDED NOT TO ALLOW TELEPHONE TAPS TO BE INCLUDED AS EVIDENCE IN THE CASE AGAINST THEM.
The two men were remanded in custody as part of the police operation ‘Karlos’, which is investigating alleged social security fraud under which people are believed to have paid large sums of money in exchange for disability benefit.
On Monday, the judge handling the case announced that recorded telephone conversations between the two men on January 23, 24, 25 and 26 should not be used as evidence, although no decision has yet been made about calls which were recorded before and after those dates. The defence lawyers intend to ask for all recordings to be declared void, and claim that they infringe their clients’ fundamental rights. Carlos Carretero, who is also believed to be the brain behind another fraud involving fake invoices, had to pay 100,000 euros bail, while that of Francisco Casto was set at 50,000.


Jerez’s local development plan to be approved

News Staff Reporter

The new local development plan (PGOU) for Jerez will be presented to the council for approval in September, according to the mayor, Pilar Sánchez. She says it is essential for the plan to be put into effect as soon as possible. The mayor has recently held meetings with the different political groups in an attempt to gain consensus over the terms of the plan, and says the urgency is due to the fact that Jerez badly needs more industrial land because under the existing PGOU the town has a smaller industrial area than any other in the province. Hence people looking to open businesses in Jerez will go elsewhere unless sites can be made available.
It looks as if her hopes of consensus are over-optimistic, however, as although the PSOE and PSA are expected to support the plan, the PP is opposed to it on the grounds that controversial politician Pedro Pacheco allegedly played a major role in its elaboration. If the draft PGOU does go through at an Extraordinary Council Meeting in early September, it will then be on public display for a period of one month, during which time any politicians who are still opposed to it will have another opportunity to register their complaints and make alternative suggestions.


Votes for all planned by Madrid

By Dave Jamieson

Spain wants to let all foreign residents vote in local municipal elections. The 900,000 nationals from European Union countries who are registered as residents can already vote but nationals from countries outside the EU are barred because Spain has no reciprocal agreement with their individual governments. The only exception presently is Norway with which Madrid has an accord and whose Spanish residents can help elect local mayors. The plans announced last week stipulate that the Government will enter into bilateral agreements with the home countries of immigrants because the constitution only allows this country to grant municipal voting rights to foreign residents from outside the EU if their home country in turn allows Spanish citizens there a similar vote.
It is estimated that there are 1.96 million non-EU nationals who live in Spain and pay taxes but cannot vote, so the change has potential to cause a significant effect in municipalities with high immigrant populations. However, the Government’s statement last week made it clear that only those who have been granted legal status would be allowed to vote when the changes are applied next year. It is anticipated that, for many, this will be in time for next May’s municipal elections when residents from the ten countries which recently joined the EU will also be eligible to vote for the first time.
The new legislation also highlights the need to define the “criteria of reciprocity” which permit Spanish citizens living abroad vote in their adopted countries. It acknowledges that this already exists in countries such as Iceland and New Zealand while agreements with others, including Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, Uruguay and Colombia, have been signed but not ratified. However, it also admits it is unlikely ever to reach agreement with countries such as China or Cuba.


Spanish king visits Saudi prince in Marbella

By David Eade

If anybody doubted the importance of the Saudi Royal Family to Marbella and Spain then it is reflected in the fact that King Juan Carlos flew from his family holiday in Majorca to visit Saudi Prince Salman on Sunday. Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud is now housed in the Palacio El Rocío in Marbella and the Spanish monarch held a “private meeting” with the governor of Riad. This week his nephew, Prince Adulaziz Bin Fahd is also expected to travel to the Costa del Sol and the arrival of members of the Saudi Royal House will mean that they bring their entourage with them.
Needless to say the arrival of the Saudis has been welcomed by the tourism industry in Marbella. The Centro de Iniciativas Turísticas (CIT) has warmly greeted the decision by various members of the Saudi Royal Family and their households to return to the Costa del Sol.
The CIT president, Miguel Gómez, observed that the Saudis are people who spend a large amount of money whilst they are in Spain. They had a high purchasing level and also sustained a social life that benefited restaurants and other entertainment venues.
The arrival of the Saudis also boosted employment in Marbella as drivers were hired and gardeners contracted to look after the gardens of the royal palace whilst they are in residence. In addition they spend a lot of money in fashion shops and in the hotels in which their entourage are housed.
The president of the CIT stated that apart from the Saudi Royal Family there were also princes from the Arab Emirates and Jordan staying in the town. Sr Gómez observed that the arrival of the family marked a sentimental time for them, as it was their first visit since the death of King Fahd, the monarch so closely linked with the jet set resort.

 

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