News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week June 19th to June 25st 2003.
BRIT FUGITIVES 'HIDING ON COSTA'
Police seek two escapees from armed prison van breakout
By David Eade
BRITISH POLICE BELIEVE THAT TWO MEN WHO WERE SPRUNG FROM A PRISON VAN IN A DARING ARMED RAID LAST WEEK IN LONDON COULD BE HEADING FOR SPAIN OR ALREADY HIDING HERE.
The pair, Clifford Hobbs and Noel Cunningham, escaped from a Securicor van as it took 10 men from Brixton Prison to the Inner London Crown Court. As it turned into Avonmouth Street at 9.00, two armed men stepped out in front of it. Exactly what happened next is not clear. However, witnesses report hearing screams and shouts before two shots were fired.
THIRD TURNS SELF IN
According to the police, one of the men shot the van driver in the legs whilst the second man forced the guard out of the van, pistol-whipped him, and then stole his keys. He then opened the van's rear door, releasing three of the prisoners, who made their escape through a park and children's playground. The third escapee, Tony Peters, gave himself up to the police a few hours later.
Mr Hobbs and Mr Cunningham face charges of conspiracy to steal, for the attempted robbery of £1.25 million pounds from a security van in Brixton in March. The unarmed raid was thwarted by the Flying Squad officers.
Immediately after the men escaped, an alert was issued at all British ports and airports, but police could not discount the possibility that the fugitives had already attempted to flee to Spain. Detective Superintendent Mick Allen of the Serious Crime Directorate said: "If they wanted to escape to Spain, they would be making their arrangements."
CASABLANCA BOMBING SUSPECT ARRESTED IN ALGECIRAS
Moroccan authorities tip off Spanish cops to suspect's whereabouts
By David Eade
NATIONAL POLICE OFFICERS IN ALGECIRAS HAVE ARRESTED ABDELAZIZ BENYAICH, A MOROCCAN AND FRENCH NATIONAL, WHO WAS THE SUBJECT OF A FIND-AND-CAPTURE ORDER FROM MOROCCAN AUTHORITIES FOR HIS SUSPECTED INVOLVEMENT IN THE TERRORIST BOMBINGS IN CASABLANCA ON MAY 16 THAT KILLED 43 PEOPLE.
Mr Benyaich was arrested in a joint operation between the National Police intelligence unit in Madrid and officers based in Algeciras. They were acting on information supplied by the Moroccan authorities indicating that the suspect was passing through Algeciras. In Morocco, a group of 12 suspects are currently being held by the police, accused of various levels of involvement with the Casablanca bombings. Amongst them are said to be reserve suicide bombers who were due to carrying out similar acts in other Moroccan cities.
TIP FROM TERRORIST LEADER
It is believed that Abdelaziz Benyaich was identified to the Moroccan authorities by Pierre Robert, one of the head planners of the suicide bombing campaign. Mr Benyaich, who is Moroccan by birth and French by marriage, is well known to the DST, the French counter-espionage agency. According to security sources, he "travels a lot" and this February visited Chechnya.
NEW COMPETITION FOR TELEFÓNICA
NEWS Staff Reporter
Despite the 1996 telecommunications deregulation that resulted in Telefónica's technical loss of its monopoly on providing phone service in Spain, competitors have found it difficult to successfully break into the market, largely due to their need to establish new connection networks extending to customers' homes and businesses. But with the impending entry of several existing electric companies into the telecommunications market, that situation is about to change.
Iberdrola, Endesa and Unión Fenosa are all in the process of setting up voice and data telecommunications services, and are expected to enter the market in the coming months. Because the companies will be able to provide service through their existing electrical networks, which are already connected to homes and businesses, their entry into the market has the potential to spark a new level of competition in the industry.
The electrical companies are able to use their existing networks to provide telecommunications services because of a new technology, Power Line Communication (PLC), that allows a normal electrical outlet to be converted into a telephone or data jack. The electricity lines then transmit the voice or data streams from the house or business to transformers, which in turn are connected to normal telecommunications networks. The companies say the technology has the potential to deliver broadband Internet access at speeds of between 1.0 and 1.5 megabytes.
HANG UP AND DRIVE
Police crack down on mobile-telephone use while driving
By Oliver McIntyre
THE DIRECCIÓN GENERAL DE TRÁFICO, (DGT ) SPAIN'S TRAFFIC DEPARTMENT HAS ANNOUNCED A NEW CAMPAIGN TO PUT A HALT TO TALKING ON MOBILE TELEPHONES WHILE DRIVING.
According to the DGT, talking on a mobile telephone has an equivalent effect on a driver's reaction time as having a blood alcohol content of between 0.5 and 0.8 grams per litre. Studies indicate that drivers talking on the telephone are six times more likely to have an accident than other drivers. The Traffic Department's director, Carlos Muñoz Repiso, reports that 941 people died in accidents caused by 'distractions' in 2002. Further, he says distractions are identified as the cause of some 24 per cent of all traffic accidents.
FINES OF 91 EUROS
As part of the DGT's new campaign, Guardia Civil agents will patrol the roads in unmarked cars looking for drivers talking on mobile telephones. Local Police departments in towns with populations of over 25,000 will also assist in the new crackdown. Those caught 'talking and driving' will be fined 91 euros. In addition to the beefed up enforcement, the DGT is launching an advertising campaign to raise public awareness.
The Traffic Department says that last year's law banning the use of mobile phones while driving had an immediate effect, causing a marked decline in telephone use by drivers. However, people have become more relaxed about the prohibition, and telephone use by drivers has begun to increase again.
One study conducted by the DGT in May indicated that nine out of every 10 drivers have a mobile phone with them in the car. Of the 1,792 drivers questioned in the survey, 33 per cent admitted to having used the telephone while driving on at least one occasion. Ten per cent said they had been in an accident while 'talking and driving'.
ON TOP OF THE WORLD
The Guardia Civil officer who recently conquered Mt. Everest, Juan Castillo Peralta, was welcomed back to his hometown of Almuñecar by Mayor Juan Luis González, who gave Sr Castillo a commemorative plaque at a special reception held at the Palacete de La Najarra. Sr Castillo, who is still recovering from frostbite, said that the hardest moment for him psychologically during his expedition was when he spoke to his five-year-old daughter on the telephone. He has dedicated his triumph to all his fellow Guardia Civil officers.
LUXURY CAR-THEFT RING BUSTED IN COÍN
Cars stolen from Costa golf courses
By Oliver McIntyre
GUARDIA CIVIL OFFICERS IN COÍN HAVE BROKEN UP A SOPHISTICATED CAR-THEFT RING THAT ALLEGEDLY SPECIALISED IN STEALING LUXURY CARS ALONG THE COSTA DEL SOL FOR FUTURE SALE IN OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES.
Police say the group stole vehicles parked outside golf courses and other leisure facilities, and then took them to a Coín workshop for reprogramming of the cars' internal computers and security systems and falsification of vehicle identification numbers and number plates.
Officers arrested a 28-year-old Bulgarian man, who they believe was the brain behind the computer reprogramming. They also seized four stolen cars, the broken locks from 25 vehicles, and a variety of tools and equipment used in the car-theft operation.
EASTERN EUROPE CONNECTION
The investigation into the group, which police suspect may be connected to Eastern European car-theft networks, began after officers making routine patrols in rural residential areas noticed several Eastern Europeans who did not appear to be working in regular jobs but who frequently drove luxury cars. The investigation remains open, and police do not rule out the possibility of further arrests.
RECORD CROWDS FLOCK TO MARBELLA FERIA
NEWS Staff Reporter
According to figures issued by Marbella Town Hall, more than 1.5 million people flocked to the town for this year's San Bernabé day and night feria. Those numbers show an increase of around 500,000 on the crowds that attended last year's event.
One of this year's star attractions was Marbella's mayor, Julián Muñoz, who was accompanied by his girlfriend and new 'first lady of Marbella', the celebrated singer Isabel Pantoja. 'La Pantoja' announced prior to the fair that she would be moving in with the mayor at the start of the festivities, and both played a prominent part in the event.
Next year the main fairground will be moved to a new location. The current site at Las Albarizas is earmarked for a social housing development, so next year the attractions will be located near the La Cañada commercial centre to the north of the Marbella by-pass.
ANOTHER SUMMER OF BLOOD SHORTAGES LOOMS
Transfusion centre launches campaign to avert crisis
By Dave Jamieson
MÁLAGA HOSPITALS ARE STANDING BY FOR ANOTHER BLOOD SHORTAGE THIS SUMMER.
The Regional Blood Transfusion Centre (CRTS) has noted a 25 per cent drop in donors during June, and has launched a campaign that it hopes will immediately generate some 3,500 donations. Around 1,000 units are needed to stave off a crisis in the city, and it is hoped the new push, which started last week with the slogan "Give health, donate blood," will keep the centre from having to issue emergency calls for donors later in the summer.
The CRTS's medical co-ordinator, Mariano Lozano, said that donations have fallen from 200 to 150 per day, resulting in a deficiency in reserves of all blood types. He noted that the city has a high demand for blood because of the many operations carried out here, and as a result of a high number of accidents. Last summer's campaign generated 11,500 donations, a figure the centre wants to increase to 13,000 this year.
Blood donations can be made at the Blood Transfusion Centre in the Hospital Civil, at the Hospital Clínico Universitario, and at a mobile unit that has been in place outside the El Corte Inglés store. From next month, mobile units will also be visiting some of the coast's most popular beaches, hoping to persuade holidaymakers to donate, which would help to alleviate the traditional summer downturn in donations at hospitals. The CRTS has also written to its regular donors, asking them to visit. It hopes that some of the 213,202 people registered as having given blood at least once in the past will step up again now.
According to the CRTS, donors should be between 18 and 65, and will be required to take a short medical examination before donating. Men may donate up to four times annually, while women are advised not to exceed three donations per year.
APPROVAL FOR ESTEPONA'S FOREST FIRES PLAN
By David Eade
The regional government's Environmental Department has approved the emergency forest fire-fighting plan put forward by Estepona Town Hall's Civil Defence and Environmental Departments.
Estepona is one of the 'high-risk' areas for fires in Málaga Province. Its emergency plan meets an obligation placed on all municipalities under the forest fire protection and management regulations issued by the regional government at the end of 2001.
Estepona's emergency plan includes information regarding the identification of high-risk areas, self-protection strategies, and the town's fire-fighting infrastructure. It also outlines preventive measures and details the material and human resources available to the municipality in the case of fire.
Between May 1 and June 30, the risk of fire in Estepona is stated as being 'medium', while between July 1 and September it is considered 'high'. The Sierra Bermeja natural park is particularly susceptible. Two major fires occurred there in 2002, one of them stopping just short of a zone where the endangered pinsapo tree grows.