News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week January 30h to February 5th
MIJAS TERROR ATTACK
Community President beaten by neighbours' alleged crime gang
By Oliver McIntyre
NORMA KENNEDY, AN IRISH RESIDENT OF MIJAS, HAS BEEN RELEASED FROM THE HOSPITAL AFTER BEING TREATED FOR INJURIES SUSTAINED WHEN SHE WAS ATTACKED IN HER OWN HOME.
On the night of the assault, three masked individuals broke into Ms Kennedy's home, beat her savagely, and attempted to strangle her. The attack left Ms Kennedy with 10 broken ribs, bruises on her face and body, and two separate fractures to her jaw. During the assault, she feigned death in order to avoid further injury or the possibility of actually being killed. "They took a video machine and a mobile phone," Ms Kennedy told Costa del Sol News, "but that is not why they came. They came purely to attack me because of my role as representative of the housing community."
Ms Kennedy indicates that she recognised the voice of one of the attackers, whom she identified as one of a group of men that live in her housing complex, where she has lived for 10 years and is president of the home-owners' association. Other residents of Las Auroras - a Calypso-area housing complex populated mostly by foreigners (the majority from England and northern Europe) - confirm that the men have long been a menace to the community. They arrived in April of 2000 and, according to neighbours, were soon operating a brothel with Russian prostitutes. The neighbours believe the men are linked to an organised crime group.
Ms Kennedy had filed numerous complaints - with both Mijas Town Hall and the Guardia Civil - on the behalf of the housing community. According to Ms Kennedy, the men were making illegal additions to their residence in order to enlarge the prostitution business. However, until the violent attack on Ms Kennedy in her own home, authorities had taken little or no action. She says that her pleas for investigation were either ignored or given low priority. "On several occasions," Ms Kennedy told CDSN, "the authorities told me to stop filing complaints because they were going after the big guys in Madrid," presumably referring to higher-level members of organised prostitution rings.
Police have arrested two of the alleged attackers and are pursuing the other. Because she is only able to identify the men by voice, Ms Kennedy is uncertain whether the police will be able to keep them in custody. She says that a judge has put a restraining order on the men, forbidding them from coming within a half-kilometre of her.
NEIGHBOURS MOVE OUT
One neighbour, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Costa del Sol News that he is selling his house and moving out because of the threat posed by these men and their activities. Ms Kennedy also said that she at least thinks about the possibility of moving out of her home. "You hate to give in to them," she says, "but if they're ultimately allowed to continue with their shifty business, I don't know what I'll do."
BRITISH COMPANY TO SALVAGE SUNKEN LIGHTER
By David Eade
SPAIN'S MINISTRY OF PUBLIC WORKS HAS ACTED SPEEDILY TO COMMISSION THE SALVAGING OF THE LIGHTER SPABUNKER IV THAT SUNK IN THE BAY OF ALGECIRAS LAST WEEK.
It has commissioned the British company Titan Maritime UK to undertake the delicate task of extracting the fuel from the lighter and then re-floating it. The Spabunker IV is lying at a depth of between 42 and 50 metres on the bottom of the bay. Divers have examined the upturned vessel and have not been able to detect any cracks or other damage to its fuel tanks.
However, the Algeciras Harbour Master, Alfonso Marquina, says the depth of the vessel is a very important factor. He said that 50 metres is the limit at which the work of off-loading the fuel and salvaging the vessel can be undertaken. He added that another problem was the muddiness of the water due to the fact that the Spabunker IV was close to the mouth of the rivers Palmones and Guadarranque.
Technicians from Titan Maritime UK made immediate contact with those involved in co-ordinating the emergency plan. The Spabunker IV had just taken on board 1,300 tons of fuel from the Cepsa refinery when she sank. Cepsa say the fuel was for the vessel's own use and therefore the 1,000 tons of fuel-oil and 300 tons of diesel should be located in tanks at the rear of the lighter.
The Minister of Public Works, Francisco Alvarez Cascos, stated that the British company had offered 'the maximum guarantee that the operation would be undertaken without the risk of contamination from the fuel that is stored in the tanks'. He added that the decision on whether to first remove the fuel or raise the vessel would be left to Titan Maritime that was also working on salvaging the Castillo de Salas in Gijón.
'VEMAMAGNA' FACES COURT ACTION
The captain of the oil-bunkering vessel 'Vemamagna', that was boarded by Greenpeace protestors last week, is to be taken to court by the environmental prosecutor of Cádiz. Last week's protest led to the arrest of 20 Greenpeace protestors and journalists by the Royal Gibraltar Police causing a diplomatic spat between Madrid and London.
The environmental prosecutor has taken action against the 'Vemamagna' because of an oil spillage that occurred on August 31 of last year when she was refuelling another vessel. The fuel slick affected the coastline and also washed up on the Poniente beach in La Línea.
MALAGA WAITING LISTS DOUBLED IN 2002
By Dave Jamieson
Hospital waiting lists in the province of Málaga have more than doubled in a year. On January 1, 7,338 patients were awaiting medical attention, compared with 3,622 12 months earlier, while the average waiting time increased from 54 to 61 days in the same period. In Andalucía overall, the list has increased by about a third, although waiting time has reduced from 77 to 62 days.
Health councillor Francisco Vallejo explained last week that Málaga's increase came as a result of an aging population and the chronic nature of some complaints. He emphasised that waiting times were still short, and the figures show that no patients in Málaga waited for surgery for more than six months, while the figure for the region dropped from 3,399 to just 21 last year. Andalucía differs from the rest of Spain in that waiting time is calculated from the point at which the patient is diagnosed as requiring surgery, whereas elsewhere, the count starts later, after all preliminary tests have been completed.
BRIT BUSTED FOR SHIPPING HASHISH TO ENGLAND
Drugs were sent in company's battery deliveries
By Oliver McIntyre
AGENTS OF THE SPECIALISED DRUG AND ORGANISED CRIME UNIT (UDYCO - COSTA DEL SOL) HAVE ARRESTED JOSEPH HENRY B., A 29-YEAR-OLD BRITISH MAN, WHO HAD ALLEGEDLY BEEN SHIPPING HASHISH TO ENGLAND.
Udyco sources indicate that the hashish was hidden in the bottom of containers in which the man's company, located in an industrial park in Mijas Costa, shipped high-voltage batteries to Great Britain via France.
Police first became suspicious of the man's company when they noticed that, although there was little activity in the Mijas warehouse, the company made periodic shipments to France, which were then sent on to Britain through an international transport company. The Udyco team intercepted one of the shipments and found 700 kilos of hashish hidden in the bottom of the container. The police also seized two stolen vehicles they believe were used to transport the drugs to the Mijas warehouse. One of the vehicles still contained the sacks in which the hashish was brought to Spain from Morocco.
The police will continue their investigation, in collaboration with Interpol and Europol, in an effort to identify additional members of the crime network involved in the drug shipments. They believe the group may also have been involved in illegal trafficking of heavy vehicles.
NERJA POLICEMAN DENOUNCED FOR ASSAULT
Officer to be retired after second attack in 3 years
By Dave Jamieson
One of Nerja's local police officers has been recommended for retirement after a complaint of aggression against him was received. A 38-year-old Nerja man denounced the officer following their confrontation, after he was pulled up for bad parking. He claimed the policeman insulted him, struck him and drew his firearm, resulting in a centimetre long wound to his chin and a bruise to his neck.
The Town Hall has suggested that the officer could be retired if the judge recommends it, as it was known he was involved in a similar incident three years ago. At that time, Mayor José Alberto Armijo imposed a nine-month suspension from work without pay, after the officer injured a 19-year-old youth, an offence then described by the judge as "serious".
CAUTION URGED IN TIMESHARE TRANSFERS
Consumer Information Office counsels scrutiny of resale middlemen
By Oliver McIntyre
THE TORREMOLINOS OFFICE OF CONSUMER INFORMATION (OMIC), IN RESPONSE TO NUMEROUS INQUIRIES, HAS PUBLISHED AN ADVISORY URGING TIMESHARE OWNERS TO BE CAUTIOUS WHEN DEALING WITH COMPANIES OR AGENTS OFFERING TO ASSIST IN THE RESALE OF VACATION TIMESHARES.
According to the OMIC, there has been a recent spate of offerings from such agents, who claim that they represent interested buyers and can facilitate the sale and transfer of the owner's interest in the timeshare property. In some cases, the agent or company charges administrative or transfer fees up front, creating a situation with potential for fraudulent activity. The OMIC advises timeshare owners to scrutinise any company or agent that offers to facilitate the sale of their interest in a timeshare property. Specifically, it recommends verifying the actual existence and solvency of the company, and requesting specific details about all fees and commissions the company charges for its services.
NO PAYING UP FRONT
Furthermore, the OMIC recommends refusing to pay up front for services to be provided, as any fees paid in advance may be very difficult or impossible to recoup in the event that the service is not fully and satisfactorily carried out.
LA HERRADURA MURDER SUSPECT HELD AFTER 5 YEARS
Arrested by Interpol in South America, now in Granada jail
By Dave Jamieson
The alleged murderer of a La Herradura man was taken to a Granada prison last week after his detention in Venezuela. Daniel Barbero, a businessman involved in leisure water sports, was shot dead in the Granada resort in May 1998, and although unsolved, the case was shelved provisionally last year because the suspect had fled and could not be found.
The arrested man was detained in South America by Interpol last Tuesday, and was returned to Madrid the following day where he was questioned on his alleged involvement with drug trafficking. At the end of the week, he was handed over the Almuñécar Court which has imprisoned him unconditionally in Albolote (Granada) pending the re-opening of the murder investigation.
MALAGA'S BRITISH CEMETERY UNDER THREAT
Consul launches appeal to preserve 1830s institution
By Dave Jamieson
FOR OVER 170 YEARS, THE BRITISH CEMETERY IN MÁLAGA HAS BEEN THE LAST RESTING PLACE OF MANY BRITONS LIVING IN SOUTHERN SPAIN, BUT IT IS NOW UNDER IMMINENT THREAT OF CLOSURE.
The Trust which operates the cemetery has run out of cash, and Málaga Town Hall has banned further burials because of new health and safety regulations, and its proximity to housing which is encroaching on the site. The cemetery was founded in 1831 by the British consul of the time, William Mark, to improve the lot of Protestants, whose fate after death was to be buried at night on the beach, facing out to sea. The consul campaigned to buy the land which the cemetery now occupies, and where many artists, poets, tax exiles, and, doubtless, a few rogues now lie.
The present consul, Bruce McIntyre, says that, unless donations are forthcoming within a few weeks, he will have to take steps to close the facility, believed to be the oldest British institution in Andalucía. The British Consul's office in Málaga has opened an account for those who wish to help preserve the cemetery, and cheques, made out to "The British Cemetery", should be sent to Apartado 360, 29080 Málaga.
NEW BILINGUAL SCHOOL FOR BENALMADENA
By Oliver McIntyre
The children of Benalmádena may soon have a new bilingual-education option available to them. Mayor Enrique Bolín has met with a British group that wants to open a private bilingual school for children (infants to six-year-olds). The Town Hall is currently discussing the possibility of providing the group with a 1,500-square-metre parcel of town property in the Retamar area, where the private organisation would build a 300-square-metre school facility.
The town currently has one British school in Torremuelle (for students aged 2 to 17), and Fuengirola's Norwegian school is beginning work this year on a new facility in Benalmádena. The British group currently seeking town property for its proposed bilingual school indicates that the facility would be open to both Spanish and foreign children, and would focus on bilingual (Spanish/English) education while conforming to the country's LOGSE educational guidelines.