News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week February 20th to February 26th 2003.
WAR TENSION IN THE STRAITS
Electronic surveillance system to be used for military purposes
By Dave Jamieson and David Eade
DESPITE RECENT EUROPEAN CONCENSUS TO DELAY THE WAR ON IRAQ TO WHICH EVEN PRIME MINISTERS BLAIR AND AZNAR SEEM TO AGREE, WAR TENSION IN THE STRAITS IS ON THE INCREASE.
The USA has already requested that Spain uses its SIVE electronic vigilance network to counter possible al-Qa'ida terrorist attacks focusing on the Straits. The request suggests that the area is not only considered to be of high risk but that the USA is not prepared to wait for NATO to extend to Gibraltar the anti al-Qa'ida operation that is presently limited to the eastern Mediterranean.
The current SIVE system has a mobile sensor station with a range of 10 kilometres. There are also fixed stations with sensors in Algeciras, Ceuta and the Sierra del Retín at Barbate, capable of detecting any vessel crossing the straits zone. The USA now wishes its military to have access to the SIVE surveillance data with US personnel being based in the control centre in Algeciras. However, the opposition has voiced its concern that the decision to allow the USA to share the SIVE system coupled with the use of bases at Rota, Morón and Gibraltar has placed the region in a compromising situation.
The British Government has included the Royal Gibraltar Regiment in its immunisation programme of troops against a possible bacteriological attack using anthrax. The move was recently confirmed by a Ministry of Defence spokesman in Gibraltar. However, the MOD spokesman said that the decision to inoculate troops was not directly linked to any possible pending invasion of Iraq. It relates to a decision taken by the British Government in May of last year to protect all troops stationed outside of the UK.
DEMOS ALONG THE COSTA
The worldwide war protest demos taking place on Saturday were also felt on the Costa. Up to 70,000 people are estimated to have marched through Málaga and gathered in the Plaza de la Merced at midday, and from there walked to the Plaza de la Constitución. The actor Juan Manuel Lara read a manifesto to the crowd, demanding a 'political but not a violent' solution to the crisis, negotiated through the United Nations, underlining the opposition to the USA's use of military bases in Andalucía at Rota and Morón as well as Gibraltar.
Málaga's was one of many similar demonstrations in Spain last weekend, which ranged from thousands protesting, as was the case of Algeciras where 14, 000 people took to the streets, to smaller but no less passionate local gatherings, including that held on Nerja's Balcón de Europa.
BENALMADENA HOSPITAL GOES TO BID
Construction of high-tech facility to cost 14 million euro
By Oliver McIntyre
BENALMÁDENA TOWN HALL LAST WEEK POSTED AN EU BULLETIN STATING THE SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE TOWN'S NEW HIGH-TECH HOSPITAL AND DIAGNOSTIC CENTRE.
The bulletin specifies a 14.6-million-euro budget and a two-year completion time for the project, and calls for all construction bids to be submitted within 56 days. The Town Hall expects construction to begin in less than three months.
According to the Town Hall, the high-tech medical facility - the first of its kind in Andalucía - will enable patients to receive diagnosis, testing, and treatment all in one visit. With a staff of 350 people, the hospital is to include 30 consulting rooms, three surgeries, five radiology rooms, 50 beds in 25 bedrooms, and emergency-room facilities. In addition, architectural plans for the project include a heliport and 400 parking spaces.
Development company Arenal 2000 may pay the nearly 15-million-euro cost of the project if the town's urban growth plan (PGOU) allows the company to build a 1,900-unit housing complex and golf course adjacent to the site. Regional government will cover the estimated 30-million-euro annual operating budget of the hospital, which is expected to serve the entire western Costa del Sol region.
News Staff Reporter
Torremolinos' sixth court of instruction last week ordered the provisional release, on a bail of 3,000 euros, of Briton Ian N., the last of the suspects being held in relation to the October 2001 murder case in which parts of Scott Michael Bradfield's remains were found in two suitcases.
The release order came after the judge held an identification hearing in which two gas station employees failed to identify the suspect as the man who purchased a can of petrol believed to have been used to burn the body of the murder victim.
SPY CAMERAS FOR MARBELLA'S STREETS
Shopkeepers approve the move in spite of local distrust
By David Eade
THE MAYOR OF MARBELLA, JULIAN MUÑOZ, HAS ANNOUNCED THAT 35 KILOMETRES OF FIBRE OPTIC CABLE IS TO BE LAID IN THE MUNICIPALITY TO CONNECT A NETWORK OF SECURITY CAMERAS.
The 72,000 euro project will see surveillance cameras placed in various zones such as the promenade, the streets of the old town, the various port areas and in San Pedro. The purpose of the camera network is to prevent crime and to assist with convictions when crimes do occur. The cameras will also aid the town's security forces with control of traffic, the monitoring of known drugs sales points and high conflict zones where there are a concentration of drinking bars.
Initial reaction amongst the people of Marbella seems to be mixed. Traders have welcomed the move, as they believe it will reduce the number of robberies and help in the identification of delinquents. However, various residents' groups have voiced their concern that the cameras will be an invasion of their right to privacy.
AIR NOSTRUM HITS BACK AT CRITICS
Airline supports staff following Melilla incident
By Dave Jamieson
Air Nostrum has praised the skill of pilots operating on its Málaga to Melilla route, and slammed those who jumped to blame the crew for an accident last month. The airline's comments came after it was made public that the pilot of the Fokker 50, which overshot Melilla Airport runway on landing after a routine flight from Málaga, had consumed alcohol or drugs. Initial media reports after the accident on January 17 suggested that one of the flight-deck crew had tested positive, but investigators are now concentrating on the mechanical failure which led to the aircraft speeding up after touchdown, rather than slowing. A second blood and urine test, carried out at the National Institute of Toxicology in Madrid, 'dispelled any doubt about the state of the pilots at the time of the accident', according to the airline.
In a newspaper advertisement, Air Nostrum said it regretted the misinformation about their pilots published in the immediate wake of the accident, and indicated it may take legal action to repair damage to its reputation. The Málaga to Melilla service is serviced by Denim Air, which rents aircraft and crew to Air Nostrum, and is now no longer operating with Fokker 50 aircraft on the route.
RADIO TRANSMITTER THEFT UNDER INVESTIGATION
Guardia Civil find leads to Coastline FM transmitter theft
By Oliver McIntyre
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE RADIO STATION COASTLINE FM REPORTED ON TUESDAY THAT POLICE HAVE IDENTIFIED LEADS IN THEIR INVESTIGATION INTO LAST WEEK'S THEFT OF THE RADIO STATION'S TRANSMITTER.
A spokesperson for the broadcasting company told Costa del Sol News that: "At this stage there are leads to the recovery of the transmitter, but I can't disclose them due to ongoing investigations by the Guardia Civil."
The theft occurred last week, when the station's transmitter, valued at 20,000 pounds, was taken from its location in the mountains above Torrox. According to Coastline's Amanda Slack: "There must have been several people involved - this is not lightweight equipment." The transmitter is four feet high by two feet wide and, according to Ms Slack, 'it was very carefully removed and there was no damage'. The station offered a reward for the safe recovery of the stolen equipment.
LOWER POWER AFFECTS EASTERN COAST
The loss of the transmitter forced the station to broadcast on lower power to its listeners along the eastern Costa del Sol, who receive the station on 97.6 FM. Reception on the station's 93.4 FM wavelength along the western Costa del Sol - which uses a different transmitter - was not affected.
NEW OWNER FINDS BODY IN TORREMOINOS FLAT
By Oliver McIntyre
The new owner of a Torremolinos flat purchased at public auction made a gruesome discovery when he discovered the body of a man in the bathroom, hidden in a bag among mattresses, pillows, and planks of wood.
According to police reports, the dead man, who has been identified only as being around 25 years old and possibly Spanish, was killed by a single puncture wound to the neck. The body of the dead man was not cut into pieces in order to be stuffed in the duffel bag, but rather was bent in several places prior to rigor mortis setting in. Because of the condition of the body at the time it was discovered, the police believe the man had been dead for between three and five days. Police sources state that the identity of the dead man does not appear to match with any known missing persons in the area.
MALAGA'S NEW CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM OPENS
Princess Cristina and her husband attend the inauguration
By Oliver McIntyre
SPAIN'S PRINCESS CRISTINA AND HER HUSBAND IÑAKI URDANGARÍN, DUKE OF PALMA, VISITED MÁLAGA ON MONDAY TO OFFICIALLY INAUGURATE THE CITY'S NEW MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART (CAC MÁLAGA).
The ceremony was hosted by Málaga Mayor Francisco de la Torre, who has been deeply involved in the creation of the new museum facility in the city's old wholesalers' market. Málaga Town Hall, with help from Unicaja, spent over 6.5 million euros to convert the historic wholesalers' market building into the new museum. The city owns the museum, but it will be managed by a private company, with an annual operating budget of 4.2 million euros.
MUSEUM TO HOUSE BOTH PERMANENT AND TEMPORARY EXHIBITIONS
CAC Málaga, in addition to its permanent collections, will house temporary exhibits and special installations, as well as offer workshops, seminars and other educational activities. The museum's first exhibit focuses on late 20th-century photography, with the Art Collection Neue Börse and works by Danish photographer Mads Gamdrup. Following its grand opening to the public this Sunday, CAC Málaga's normal hours will be from 10.00 to 20.00, Tuesday through Sunday.
JUNTA MATCHES EUROPEAN CASH FOR MÁLAGA
Palacio de Ferias benefits from huge cash injection
By Dave Jamieson
Funding for Málaga's new Palacio de Ferias is 18 million euros better off, after regional government matched a grant from European Union funds. The EU provided around 10 million euros in subsidies for projects in the province, most of which went to construction of the Palacio. The EU aid programme Interreg III is to provide nine million euros from an initiative which supports trans-frontier projects, and will be channelled through central government in Madrid. No sooner was the news known, than Málaga's Mayor, Francisco de la Torre, reminded the President of the Junta de Andalucía of a promise made in December, in which Manuel Chaves undertook to match central funding. The following day, Sr Chaves announced that the Junta would match the nine million from Europe, although he made it clear there was some debate about whether cash from the EU which arrived via Madrid should be classed as a government grant.
The total cost of the Palacio de Ferias is understood already to be 66 per cent covered by Málaga Town Hall. Nerja is also to benefit from cash from Interreg III with 1.2 million euros earmarked to cover 75 per cent of updates to improve tourism.