News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week September 4th to September 10th 2003.
DNA LINKS TWO MURDERS
Sample found at Coín crime scene matches sample found in 1999 Rocío Wanninkhof case
By Oliver McIntyre
THE INVESTIGATION INTO THE MURDER OF 17-YEAR-OLD SONIA CARABANTES IN COÍN TOOK A SHARP TURN EARLIER THIS WEEK WHEN RESULTS FROM DNA TESTS IN THE CASE TURNED UP A MATCH WITH DNA FOUND AT THE SCENE OF THE 1999 MURDER OF ANOTHER YOUNG WOMAN, 19-YEAR-OLD ROCÍO WANNINKHOF.
The DNA from samples of skin taken from underneath Srta Carabantes' fingernails, as well as a saliva sample from a cigarette butt found near where her body was discovered, match the DNA from saliva found on a cigarette butt at the scene of Srta Wanninkhof's 1999 disappearance in Mijas.
According to Sevilla Toxicology Institute biologist Pilar Sanz, the likelihood that the DNA samples from the two cases come from the same individual is "99.9996 per cent." In both cases, the cigarette butts found were of the brand Royal Crown. The DNA match also marks a radical turn in the Rocío Wanninkhof case, in which a suspect, Dolores Vázquez, was tried and found guilty in September 2001 and sentenced to 15 years in jail. However, her trial was annulled in February 2002 due to legal technicalities, with a retrial scheduled for October 14 of this year. Sra Vázquez had previously maintained a close relationship with Rocío Wanninkhof's mother, Alicia Hornos. Sra Hornos still adamantly holds to her belief that Dolores Vázquez is her daughter's killer, and has appeared on Spanish television programmes and in the press indicating that the new findings do not shake that belief. Sra Vázquez, on the other hand, has always insisted that she is innocent. Sra Vázquez's lawyer, Pedro Apalategui, has announced that he will request that his client's retrial be cancelled in the face of the new evidence, which he said automatically clears her of involvement in the crime. He said the findings prove the investigation that led to Sra Vázquez's arrest was a botch-job. Rocío Wanninkhof disappeared in La Cala de Mijas in October 9, 1999, and her body was found in Marbella on November 2 of the same year. Police investigators arrested Sra Vázquez a year later.
NO SEXUAL ASSAULT
Other than confirming the existence of the DNA match between the two cases, investigators have not publicly indicated what level of connection they believe exists between the killings. Further test results from the Sonia Carabantes case indicate that she was not sexually assaulted, as was previously thought by investigators. When her body was found, it was naked from the waist down and her bra was torn. In the Rocío Wanninkhof case, too, the body was found naked but autopsy findings indicated there had been no sexual assault. The investigation into Sonia Carabantes' murder was previously focused on two young Coín men, who police said may have known Srta Carabantes and might even have participated in the massive search that followed her disappearance. She went missing in the early-morning hours of August 14, when on her way home from the Coín feria, and her body was found on August 19 near Monda, partially buried under a pile of large stones.
FOUR DIE IN AXARQUÍA PLANE CRASH
By Dave Jamieson
Four people, including an eight-year-old girl, died last Friday evening when a light aircraft crashed in the Axarquía. Emergency services were called when the plane came down on private land close to the River Vélez, 50 metres from the El Trapiche airfield. Witnesses said the accident occurred as the pilot, a 30-year-old flying instructor, was performing manoeuvres prior to landing the 20-year-old Cessna 172, which had just passed a safety check and belonged to the Aerotec flying school. There was an explosion, after which the aircraft plummeted to the ground, killing all four on board.
Emergency crews working at the crash site took three hours to recover the badly burned bodies of the victims, including the pilot's brother, the brother's girlfriend, and the eight-year-old daughter of the pilot's girlfriend, all of whom came from Vitoria. Civil Aviation inspectors immediately opened an investigation to determine if the incident was due to pilot error or a technical failure. A solicitor for the Royal Málaga Aeroclub described the instructor as a "very experienced" pilot. The accident was the second light-aircraft incident in the area in two months, following the crash-landing of a plane towing an advertising banner near Cájiz on July 11. In that episode, engine failure lead to the aircraft coming to rest nose-down in an avocado tree, but no one was seriously injured. Residents who live close to the Leoní Benabú airfield at El Trapiche expressed concern at last Friday's fatal accident, and at the number of flights taking off and landing every day, particularly in summer.
TWO MARBELLA POLICE FACE PRISON IN FOREIGN-MOTORIS
NEWS Staff Reporter
The Málaga prosecutor is seeking a total of twelve years and six months in prison for two local policemen from Marbella. The officers are accused of falsifying documents and embezzling public funds.
The prosecution alleges that at 14:15 on February 14, 1998, the two officers stopped a car that had crossed a traffic light whilst it was red. After observing that the driver was a foreigner, they allegedly charged her an on-the-spot fine of 90 euros and threatened to seize the vehicle if she did not pay.
As the woman did not have the money, she went to a nearby architect's office, where friends leant her the cash. She then returned to the officers and paid the fine, but allegedly did not receive a receipt saying she had paid.
The prosecution is arguing that not only did the officers not issue a receipt but they also shared the 90 euros between them.
CHANGE OF IMAGE
Meanwhile, Marbella's new councillor for Public Security, Carlos Fernández, has issued proposals aimed at changing the image of the local police and bringing the force nearer to the public. The numerous cabins located throughout the municipality that operate as mini police stations will now bear the slogan "protecting and serving the citizens." New police districts will be formed in Marbella, San Pedro, Nueva Andalucía, Puerto Banús and Las Chapas, coinciding with a change in the police command structure. Plans also include the addition of a new fleet of white all-terrain vehicles with satellite GPS tracking systems.
"THOUSANDS" WORKING ILLEGALLY IN MÁLAGA
Death of construction work triggers criticism of employers
By Dave Jamieson
MORE THAN 3,500 IMMIGRANTS ARE WORKING IN MÁLAGA WITHOUT AN EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT OR INSURANCE AGAINST INJURY, ACCORDING TO STATEMENTS MADE LAST WEEK BY THE PROVINCIAL SECRETARY OF THE WORKERS' COMMISSION, FRANCISCO GUTIÉRREZ.
An immigrants' solidarity group estimated that the number of illegal immigrant workers is much higher, at around 14,000. Sr Gutiérrez said that such workers do not have permission to reside or work in Spain, and their discovery could lead to their expulsion from the country. Employers found guilty of illegal employment can be fined 6,000 euros per employee.
The subject has hit the headlines following the revelation that the worker who died at the construction site of Málaga's Davis Cup tennis arena (CDSN, Aug. 28 - Sept. 3) did not have an employment contract. It has also been revealed that the 37-year-old Moroccan man, Mohamed Marras, was working under conditions that did not meet the minimum required safety standards. The Inspector of Works halted construction and said other immigrants hired to work illegally on building the temporary tennis court had been identified.
Work restarted at the site last Thursday, under the supervision of an expert from the Málaga College of Architects. He has been hired by the Spanish Tennis Federation, which has also posted its own representative permanently in Málaga to report on progress. Federation representatives expect the Davis Cup semi-final will go ahead as planned. Spain is due to play Argentina over three days, beginning on September 19.
Despite earlier claims that all workers were legally employed, the construction company involved has come under close scrutiny by the Inspector of Works and trade unions. Allegations were made that the company employed Polish, Ecuadorian, Moroccan and Romanian workers at considerably lower pay rates than Spanish employees.
MÁLAGA ACCIDENT RATE
Meanwhile, figures published last week show that Málaga has seen more serious accidents in the construction sector than any other Andalucían province. From January to August this year, there were 32 fatal accidents in the region, of which 11 occurred in Málaga. The province of Málaga recorded twice as many overall accidents as some other provinces, but, as the report points out, it also has twice the number of workers in the sector as any other province. The UGT-A trade union spokesman expressed "enormous concern" about the increasing number of serious accidents. He noted that 40 per cent of fatal and serious accidents result from falls, and emphasised that safety measures presently exist to prevent such incidents. The union has also reported a recent accident in La Herradura to the Works Inspector, in which a 41-year-old man working on the construction of a new tourist complex fell to his death from the third-floor level.
TARIFA SWAMPED BY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
New wave of arrivals overwhelms detention centre
By David Eade
THE COASTAL WATERS OFF TARIFA WERE SWAMPED OVER THE WEEKEND BY A LARGE INFLUX OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
A total of 208 people, including three young children and a baby, came ashore in three boats within a period of just a two-and-a-half hours on Sunday bringing the total number of immigrants to 330 over the whole weekend.
The first contingent on Sunday arrived in the port of Tarifa at 07:00 on board a Coastguard vessel. Their flimsy boat had been intercepted east of the Punta Cascabel. The group consisted of 62 North African men. Just 40 minutes later another group of 77 Moroccans arrived - 72 men, two women and three children. They, too, were landed in the port of Tarifa by the Coastguard.
The final group, 58 Moroccans plus 10 other North Africans arrived at 09:30. They were intercepted at Paloma Baja and also brought to Tarifa by boat. All 208 people were later transferred to the detention centre at Isla de las Palomas. The detained immigrants were examined by a Red Cross doctor and nurse on landing. All were in a good state of health and none required hospitalisation. The rush of immigrants overwhelmed the detention centre at Isla de las Palomas requiring 68 people to be transferred to Algeciras. From there they will be either repatriated or returned to the detention centre.
ANOTHER 145 ARRIVE
As the CDSN went to press, another 145 illegal immigrants were reported to have arrived in Tarifa. This again places great pressure on the Isla de las Palomas detention centre, although 100 of those who arrived at the weekend have already been repatriated. Firemen rescued two members of the latest group after they were trapped on rocks while attempting to land on Tarifa's beach.
PRISON IS A FOREIGN PLACE
By News Staff Reporter
The number of foreigners among the inmate population of the provincial prison in Alhaurín de la Torre is on the increase. Since 1998, the number of non-Spanish prisoners has jumped 20 to 25 per cent, according to figures provided last week by the prison's director, Jorge Castejón. Sr Castejón noted that the rising foreign-inmate population is not confined to the Alhaurín facility, but reflects a nation-wide trend in Spanish prisons.
The British Consul in Málaga, Mr Bruce McIntyre, told CDSN that there are currently 57 British inmates in the Alhaurín prison, which houses a total of around 1,300 prisoners. He said the number of British prisoners fluctuates significantly, noting that there were over a hundred at one point last year.
According to Mr McIntyre, the rapidly changing number of British inmates is due not just to the locking up of new prisoners and release of others, but also to the transferring of convicts to other correctional facilities in different parts of the country.In order to regulate the total number of prisoners held in Alhaurín, the jail often has to transfer inmates out; when it does so, those who have less family and employment ties to the local area are the most likely to go. That often means foreigners. And in the case of the Brits, says Mr McIntyre, "many times they or their families actually request a transfer to a prison in the northern part of the country, because it's closer to home and easier for family members to get to."
REGIONAL GOVERNMENT UNHAPPY WITH COSTA SANITATION
New and larger wastewater treatment plants needed
REGIONAL GOVERNMENT UNHAPPY WITH COSTA SANITATION New and larger wastewater treatment plants needed By David Eade
THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT ISSUED A REPORT LAST WEEK STATING THAT IT "IS NOT SATISFIED" WITH THE SANITATION SYSTEM ON THE COSTA DEL SOL.
According to the regional government's Public Works Department, the integrated sanitation plan for the Costa del Sol is the oldest in Spain after that of Madrid. The project dates back to the 1980s and is still not finished. The Ministry of the Environment is now set to carry out the connection of the urbanisations situated to the west of Estepona with the water treatment plant at Manilva. However, the regional government says there is still much more work to be completed. The Junta de Andalucía has stated that the treatment plants in Fuengirola, Estepona and Arroyo de la Miel all need to be enlarged, and additional new plants are required in Nerja and Torrox.
The regional government's report indicates that 85 per cent of wastewater is channelled through recycling plants, but the remaining 15 per cent is not. According to the Junta, this is not satisfactory, as it does not take into account the growing demands of the tourist market and could well damage the image of the Costa del Sol. It has called upon the Ministry of the Environment to create a consortium for water control by integrating the two associations of town halls that exist in the province of Málaga.
MORE CAPACITY NEEDED
Currently, there are six water treatment plants operating on the Costa with a further three smaller plants situated in the interior. The combined capacity of the plants is to treat wastewater for 675,000 inhabitants. However, studies by the regional government show there is a registered population of 250,000 people living between Benalmádena and Manilva alone, which rises to 800,000 in the high tourist season.