News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week August 28th to September 3rd 2003.
COSTA WORKERS DEFRAUDED
Employers cheat 5,000 full-time workers with part-time contracts
By Oliver McIntyre
SOME 5,000 PEOPLE WORKING ON THE COSTA DEL SOL ARE BEING DEFRAUDED BY THEIR EMPLOYERS, WORKING FULL-TIME ON A PART-TIME CONTRACT, ACCORDING TO STATEMENTS MADE LAST WEEK BY THE COMISIONES OBRERAS (CC.OO) TRADE UNION.
CC.OO says the workers, mostly in the tourism and retail industries, are contracted for a 20-hour-per-week position, but actually work a regular full-time schedule. According to the trade union, employers are either paying the employees 'under the table' for the additional hours, or are not compensating them at all for the extra time.
Both scenarios are illegal, and cheat both the worker and the Government. The Government loses tax revenue and the employee logs fewer hours on the Social Security books than he or she is actually working, and is deprived of full future unemployment and pension benefits. There are some situations where the employer legally pays the worker for extra hours worked, making the appropriate declarations for the extra hours and additional pay, but, according to the CC.OO, this is not the norm.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE VULNERABLE
Comisiones Obreras Provincial Secretary, Gonzalo Fuentes, noted last week that "the employers use this kind of fraudulent contract with people who really need the work, taking advantage of their vulnerability to act in an illegal manner."
The demographic groups most often taken advantage of in this manner are women (70 per cent) and young people (30 per cent), according to Sr Fuentes. Of the 5,000 people identified by CC.OO as being affected, 4,000 are in the tourism sector and 1,000 in the retail industry.
POLICE CLOSING IN ON SONIA'S KILLERS
Two local Coín men are investigators' chief suspects
By Oliver McIntyre
POLICE INVESTIGATING THE MURDER OF 17-YEAR-OLD SONIA CARABANTES IN COÍN SAY THEY ARE CLOSING IN ON THE SUSPECTED KILLERS, AND THAT ARRESTS COULD BE IMMINENT ONCE FORENSIC RESULTS ARE FINAL.
The autopsy on the body - which was found on Tuesday, August 19, five days after Srta Carabantes disappeared on her way from the Coín feria in the early hours of Thursday, August 14 - confirmed the identity of the corpse. It also revealed that the cause of death was strangulation, and that the girl had suffered several injuries, including a fractured collarbone and numerous broken teeth in her lower jaw. Although investigators await test results for confirmation, police are working under the initial theory that there was also a sexual attack; the body was found naked from the waist down and with the girl's bra torn.
According to reports from the investigation, the person or persons who abducted and murdered Sonia Carabantes were not professionals; they did a rushed and sloppy job of trying to cover their tracks, leaving a strong trail of clues and forensic evidence. Both at the scene of her disappearance outside her Coín home and at the location near Monda where the body was discovered, investigators have collected evidence such as human hairs and tissues, blood samples, and discarded cigarette butts. All of these are undergoing forensic testing and are expected to provide police a strong tool for identifying the suspects.
The police say they have already identified some individual suspects in the case and are awaiting results from tests on all the evidence samples before moving to make any arrests. They have reported that their primary suspects are two young men from Coín, both around 20 years old, who may have known Srta Carabantes and may even have participated in the large search effort that followed her disappearance. The police have not named the suspects, but rumours have been flying in the still-shaken small town of 20,000 people, and one young man last week filed a complaint with the Guardia Civil, saying he had been harassed by people who were accusing him of being the killer. The town's mayor, Gabriel Clavijo, and other officials have called for calm among residents, imploring them to be patient in allowing justice to take its course, and to let the police investigation continue in the most efficient manner possible.
POLICE SEEKING WITNESSES
As CDSN went to press, the police were looking for a group of people who were nearly hit by a white car on the road between Coín town centre and the fairground between 05:00 and 06:00 on the morning of Srta Carabantes' disappearance. They want to interview the group in relation to the investigation. A small white car was seen by two witnesses in Coín around the time of the disappearance, and later that morning another witness saw someone washing a white car along the Pereila river not far from where the body was later found. Also nearby was the location where investigators found bloodstained pants that were later identified as being those that Srta Carabantes was wearing when she disappeared.
BRIT'S CARAVAN BURNS WHILE PARKED ILLEGALLY
NEWS Staff Reporter
A caravan belonging to a British man caught fire last weekend while parked in an area officially off limits to vehicles near a beach by the Maro - Cerro Gordo cliffs of Nerja. At the time of the fire, which started at around 19:00 on Sunday afternoon and was extinguished by firefighters by 20:30, the man and his family were at the nearby La Albarquillas beach. The cause of the fire has not been discovered, but authorities believe it started on the caravan roof. The incident happened on the first anniversary of the Junta de Andalucía's prohibition of vehicles on the beaches of Maro - Cerro Gordo. The vehicle prohibition has been a controversial issue in the area, and has resulted in an ongoing battle between the Junta and Nerja Town Hall regarding the appropriate protection of and access to the beaches and the nature park in which they are located.
MARBELLA TOWN HALL'S 'COUNCIL OF WAR'
Political party leaders at regional level discuss possible interventions
By David Eade
LEADERS OF THE MAIN POLITICAL PARTIES MET FOR TWO HOURS AT THE ANDALUZ PARLIAMENT IN SEVILLA ON MONDAY TO DISCUSS THE ONGOING CRISIS AT MARBELLA TOWN HALL.
The senior representatives of the Partido Popular, PSOE and Partido Andalucista agreed that they had no confidence in the new government in Marbella and, despite the removal of former mayor Julián Muñoz, "nothing has changed." The politicians will meet again on Monday to discuss the matter further. Intervention in the political governance of Marbella by the regional government seems increasing likely, especially in matters relating to town planning. The dissolution of the Town Council is still a possibility, although all parties have indicated that they see this as an extreme measure.
The new mayoress of Marbella, Marisol Yagüe, has expressed her surprise that the regional government does not wish to give her administration a chance to succeed. Many observers contend that such sentiments on her part show a great naivety given the current political situation in the town.
One problem is that the ruling Grupo Mixto party's 21 councillors were not directly elected as such at the May elections. The group is made up of former GIL councillors plus now-expelled members of the PSOE and PA parties. Indeed, any Marbella voters who supported the PA at the last election now find themselves without any representatives at the Town Hall.
PP MAY BENEFIT MOST
The PSOE and PA wish to see their parties re-established in Marbella, whilst the PP is perhaps best set to be a beneficiary of the political chaos. The party is on the rise in Marbella and it is believed that many former GIL party voters would feel equally at home in the ranks of the PP. In addition, the PP did not support the motion to remove Julián Muñoz, and this may sit well with the many Marbella voters who feel betrayed by the rebel councillors' actions.
OIL SLICK CLOSES TWO BEACHES
NEWS Staff Reporter
An oil slick closed La Línea de la Concepción's Poniente and Los Manolos beaches to bathers on Sunday. Police sealed off the area, which is close to the frontier with Gibraltar, at 11:30 after an oil slick covering an area of 800 by 50 square metres was seen approaching the shore.
The slick appeared to be made up of burnt oil, fuel, solvents, detergents and other substances. La Línea's beach-services unit was rapidly deployed to tackle the problem, and by 14:00 they had filled more than 100 sacks with residue.
The beach workers were assisted by a Coast Guard ship and a regional government vessel. However, both of these boats were impeded in their efforts to clear the slick by the shallow water along the coastal strip.
The authorities believe that the contamination was caused by a vessel cleaning its tanks as it passed through the Straits of Gibraltar or the Bay of Algeciras. As CDSN went to press, no vessel had been identified as the culprit and investigations were ongoing.
Nonetheless, the environmental group Ecologistas en Acción was quick to blame Gibraltar for the spillage. A spokesman claimed that the oil slick appeared on Saturday and was only pushed towards La Línea when the wind changed directions.
The ecologists have called upon the Spanish Foreign Ministry, the regional government's Environment Department and the EU to act against oil spills that they allege occur as a result of Gibraltar's bunkering operations. They have stated that these operations carry on through the night after the Algeciras Harbour Master's vessel has departed from monitoring the zone at 20:00. In addition, the ecologists have stated that vessels use Gibraltar's facilities because the authorities are less strict than those in Algeciras, who operate a strict 25 per cent inspection regime.
MIJAS CANCELS RUNNING OF BULLS AT FAIR
NEWS Staff Reporter
Mijas Town Hall has announced that there will be no 'encierro de vaquillos', or running of young bulls, at the town's feria this year. The cancellation of the traditional 'encierro' comes as the result of the Junta de Andalucía denying a permit for the event, due to the lack of an emergency operating theatre at the bullring.
The Virgen de la Peña feria, which this year will take place September 5 to 9, has included the running of the young bulls for the last 24 years. Previously, it was curtailed in 1967 before being restarted in 1979 by the municipality's first democratic Town Hall after Franco's death. Despite the current Town Hall's disappointment with the decision to prohibit the event at this year's feria, Fiestas councillor María del Carmen Peinado recognises that "there is no choice but to follow the regulations."
MÁLAGA FERIA MARRED BY STABBING INCIDENT
Knife attack occurred despite highest ever security level at fair
By Dave Jamieson
MÁLAGA'S ANNUAL FAIR WAS MARRED LAST WEEK WHEN TWO YOUNG MEN FROM MADRID RECEIVED KNIFE INJURIES.
In the early hours of last Wednesday, one of the men was stabbed in the groin and the other in the side and right thigh, causing substantial blood loss. Friends of the victims reported that one shouted that he had been stabbed, after which they saw someone running off at speed. Local police officers, criticised by some witnesses for failing to react quickly enough and allowing the attacker to escape, cleared the area and searched unsuccessfully for the weapon used. Both of the injured men were reported to be recovering well in hospital after their ordeal. This first serious incident of the 2003 fair came after security at last week's annual event was reported to be at its highest level ever. Officers made extensive use of metal-detectors at many points of entrance in an attempt to prevent knives and similar weapons finding their way into the crowds.
ALLEGED POLICE BEATING
Meanwhile, a 22-year-old man has filed a complaint against Málaga's local police for their actions at the fair one night last week. He alleges that he was assaulted by a group of around of a dozen officers for no reason. The man says he left one of the stalls with friends, and then came upon eight to 10 policemen, who began to strike him with truncheons on various parts of his body. He says he managed to escape but his friends continued to be attacked. The man was taken to the emergency department at Carlos Haya hospital where he was reported to have had an arm plastered and received treatment for more than 30 bruises.
COURT ORDERS DEAD MAN'S HEART SENT BACK TO UK
NEWS Staff Reporter
A Torremolinos court last week issued an order requiring the Instituto de Toxicología in Sevilla to send to the UK the heart of a 34-year-old British who man died of a heart attack while at a swimming pool in Benalmádena with his girlfriend on April 18 (CDSN, Aug. 21-27). The man's Nottingham mother has been trying to retrieve the organ ever since she learned, upon having a second autopsy performed on her son's body in the UK, that the heart was missing, having been removed during the primary post mortem conducted in Spain.
This was not however, an isolated case. The Foreign Office recently confirmed that four Britons who died in Spain within the last six months had organs removed during autopsy without the knowledge or permission of the deceased's relatives. Spain is not the only country where such events occur; similar cases have been reported in France and other nations, both in Europe and elsewhere. In some instances the organs are believed to have been used for medical research, whilst in other cases they have simply been incinerated. According to the Foreign Office, in 2001 a total of 1,356 Britons died abroad and roughly a third of those cases would have required a post mortem.
ALMERÍA NUDISTS BARE THEIR GRIEVANCES
Naked march to protest encroachment on clothing-optional beach
By Oliver McIntyre
SEVEN HUNDRED USERS OF WHAT HAS TRADITIONALLY BEEN A NUDIST BEACH IN VERA, ALMERÍA, HELD AN IN-THE-BUFF MARCH ON THE BEACH LAST WEEKEND TO PROTEST WHAT THEY SAY IS AN INCREASING ENCROACHMENT ON THEIR RIGHT TO ENJOY THE SITE WITHOUT CLOTHES ON.
The nudists put the blame on the Town Hall, which they say last year placed new limits on the expanse of beach that is open to non-clothed visitors, and has also contributed to the development of an unfriendly attitude toward nude bathers. The event that ultimately sparked the grievance-baring march was a recent berating received by some nudists by a group of non-naked beach-goers.
The naturist association Tortuga Boba organised the march, which included many nude protesters, but also some clothed supporters who joined the call for the beach to remain open to nudists and non-nudists alike, and for a fostering of harmony and acceptance between the two groups. The march began at 11:30 on Sunday morning near the hotel Vera Playa and covered a 3,000-metre stretch of beach heading towards the aqua park. The protesters shouted for onlookers to join them, yelling, "Don't look; join the march."
One Englishwoman who marched in the protest told reporters that, while she is a nudist, her son, who accompanied her in the march, is not. Despite his demurring from public nudity, she said, he wanted to show his support for "peaceful coexistence and respect for our rights as nudists."
Prior to arriving at the planned stopping point of the march, the leaders of the group were stopped by Guardia Civil agents who asked for their identification and requested that the protesters disperse. Nonetheless, the group continued on for another 100 metres or so before stopping en masse and breaking into a long round of applause.
The marchers then disbanded, heading back toward the section of the beach that is still officially recognised as 'nudist'. According to the protestors, the clothing-optional area used to cover a 3,000-metre stretch of beach between the Almanzora campsite and the Camino de los Tres Olivos, but is now reduced to just 1,100 metres.