News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week September 18th to September 24th 2003.
SPAIN FLAUNTS ANTI-CORRUPTION LAWS
Madrid refuses to implement European charter against internal corruption
BY JAMES PARKES
SPAIN'S FAILURE TO SIGN A CHARTER AGAINST CORRUPTION WITHIN THE CIVIL SERVICE, DRAWN UP BY THE GROUP OF STATES AGAINST CORRUPTION (GRECO), MAKES IT THE ONLY EU COUNTRY IN THE GROUP NOT TO HAVE SIGNED THE AGREEMENT.
GRECO was formed by the Council of Europe in 1994 to fight corruption in the EU. Only Italy and Austria have refused to join GRECO, which since its creation has also seen many non-European countries, including the USA, opt to sign the charter. One of the requirements future EU member states must fulfil is the adoption of the group's charter regarding corruption in the civil service - precisely the one Spain has not signed.
In a meeting held in Valencia, the chairman of GRECO, Slovenian Secretary of State Drago Kos, regretted that Spain has not yet implemented the charter. "Corruption in Spain cannot be controlled solely by GRECO," said Mr Kos, who added: "Its refusal to accept and implement national legislation is comparable to Georgia or Azerbaijan."
NO CLEAR STRATEGY
In 2001, GRECO released a report on corruption in Spain, including a series of recommendations regarding the implantation of anti-corruption laws. Mr Kos lamented that two years later these are being ignored and told delegates: "It is obvious that there is no clear anti-corruption strategy in Spain, the state must have more resources and legal instruments to fight crimes of corruption."
Manuel Lezertúa, Head of the Council of Europe's Penal Affairs Department, also attended the meeting in Valencia. He said that Madrid would be receiving another negative report on internal corruption along with a list of recommendations this autumn, and it was hoped the Government would be more receptive - especially as general elections draw near. Experts warn that the delay in adopting such directives and international charters is having a negative impact on Spain's image in other EU states. One analyst said: "Corruption is still seen as a widespread problem in Spain, especially at local government levels, and its citizens are denied protection by the Government's reticence to fall in line with GRECO and the EU."
10 MÁLAGA RESIDENTS KILLED IN PORTUGUESE AIR CRASH
British pilot and three children amongst victims
By Dave Jamieson
NINE SPANISH HOLIDAYMAKERS AND A BRITISH PILOT DIED IN A PLANE CRASH OFF MADEIRA LAST WEEK.
Everyone aboard the plane was killed when it came down in the sea last Thursday while returning home after a few days on the Portuguese island of Madeira. The nine passengers included three married couples and three children, aged eight, seven and two, all of whom lived in the capital.
There were emotional scenes at Málaga airport when news of the accident was broken to around 20 friends and relatives who were awaiting the victims' return. The pilot had taken off from the airport at Funchal in good weather conditions when his twin-engine Beechcraft B-200 plunged into the sea just three kilometres and three minutes from the island. The aircraft came down to the south of Madeira in an area where the sea is very deep, leading to difficulties in the air-sea rescue operation, which was also hampered by bad weather and the total destruction of the craft upon impact. The pilot lived in the same apartment block in Málaga as some of the victims and had invited them to holiday with him at his expense.
While authorities investigated the cause of the disaster, a spokesman for Spain's Official College of Pilots, Luis Ortega, said that Madeira's airport, with frequent high winds producing turbulence, is very dangerous and demands a highly experienced aircrew. He added that it is one of Europe's most complicated airfields for landings and take-offs, and until a few years ago had the continent's shortest runway. The aircraft, which was carrying its full capacity of nine passengers, was built in 1977. It had been registered in the U.S., meaning it could be crewed by a single pilot, whereas Spanish registration would have required a crew of two.
POSSIBLE ENGINE FIRE
Speculation quickly arose that a fire in one of the plane's engines caused it to crash, after residents on Madeira reported seeing a "cloud of fire" falling into the sea. Málaga's mayor, Francisco de la Torre, declared two days of official mourning, with flags on government buildings lowered to half-mast, and described the incident as "tremendously sad."
Last week's accident came two days before the 21st anniversary of Málaga's most serious air accident. On September 13, 1982, 53 people died when a DC-10 of the Spanish airline Spantax crashed while taking off on a flight to New York with 394 passengers and crew on board.
THREE ARRESTED OVER ESTEPONA FOREST FIRE
By David Eade
Three members of the same family, a married couple and the sister-in-law of one of the two, have been accused of starting a fire that destroyed 70 hectares of scrub and pine forest in the 'natural beauty spot' of Los Reales in Estepona.
The local police assigned to the Infoca firefighting team allege that the middle-aged trio caused the fire when they burned rubbish on land they own at La Portezuela, the start point of the blaze.
The family has appeared in court accused of negligence. It is believed that their bonfire went out of control as Levante winds of up to 60 kilometres an hour were raging along the coast. The strong winds caused the blaze to quickly spread and it was only brought under control after a 12-hour overnight effort by firefighters.
Three firefighting helicopters and two seaplanes tackled the blaze. However, they experienced extreme difficulties because of the presence of high-tension electricity cables and pylons in the mountainous region on the road between Estepona and Ubrique.
During the night, fire crews from Granada and Cádiz joined those from the Costa del Sol, Málaga Province and the Campo de Gibraltar in fighting the fire. Twelve households in the fire zone were evacuated but the mayor of Estepona, Antonio Barrientos, said all occupants returned home on the day after the blaze with no serious damage reported.
MIJAS MAN KILLED BY JUNKYARD DOGS
Family holds owner responsible but police believe dogs killed intruder
By Oliver McIntyre
THE BODY OF A 30-YEAR-OLD MAN WAS FOUND LAST WEEK IN A MIJAS CAR SCRAP YARD, APPARENTLY THE VICTIM OF WOUNDS CAUSED BY THE YARD'S THREE WATCHDOGS, WHICH POLICE BELIEVE ATTACKED THE MAN WHEN HE WAS ATTEMPTING TO STEAL CAR PARTS.
Guardia Civil officers discovered the body of Vicente H.S. after receiving a call from his nephew, who told them Sr H.S. had not come out of the Las Lagunas wrecking yard after breaking in to rob it. The body was lying in a foetal position on the ground and had numerous bite wounds, the most serious to one of the victim's arms. The investigators' initial theory is that the man was killed by the watchdogs, three large, powerful Neapolitan Mastiffs. However, they are still awaiting autopsy results to confirm the exact cause of death.
Meanwhile, the man's relatives have expressed their belief that the owner of the wrecking yard is responsible for the death, and have filed a formal complaint against him for what they describe as "homicide." They say he had hostile feelings toward Sr H.S., who had robbed the wrecking yard before. One relative told reporters that two weeks before the death the yard owner had come around saying that if he caught anyone on his property he would "shoot them and throw them to the dogs." At minimum, the family members believe the owner may have released the dogs into the area where the man was stealing tyres. They say the dogs didn't previously have access to that particular area of the yard.
Guardia Civil investigators have so far rejected the notion that the wrecking-yard owner was involved in the man's death, though they recognise that he had on numerous occasions expressed his anger about frequent robberies. It was the owner who opened the yard for officers when they went to investigate the man's disappearance, though the victim's family members say he did so only after turning the officers away once, telling them to get a search warrant.
DOGS STILL IN YARD
At the time CDSN went to press, the Fuengirola court in charge of the case had issued no order to have the dogs removed from the wrecking yard or for any other action to be taken against the yard-owner or the animals. According to police information, Sr H.S. had a previous record for theft. Family members indicate that he had a drug problem but was a good person and did not deserve to die in the manner that he did.
THOUSANDS MARCH AGAINST RONDA GOLF COURSES
By David Eade
Over 2,000 people took part in a march on Sunday to protest against the construction of two golf courses in the Serranía de Ronda. They walked from Cuevas del Becerro to Los Merinos in the municipality of Ronda, across the area where two golf courses and a luxury residential development are to be built.
The protest was organised by various associations, political parties and trade unions that have formed themselves into an action group to protect the water resources of the area. They are also upset that part of the urbanisation will take up land situated in the UNESCO Reserve of the Biosphere, where a private motor-racing circuit is also being built.
The protestors insist that the golf-course developments will be a serious assault on the local water reserves. They argue that the projects will affect both the quantity and quality of the present water supply, which has to meet the needs of the 10,000 people living in the municipalities of Arriate, Cuevas del Becerro and Setenil de la Bodegas, as well as various outlying areas of Ronda. The group also believes the urban development associated with the golf courses will have a detrimental effect on the flora and fauna in the zone.
Ronda Town Hall has stopped construction work on the golf courses because the developers did not have the necessary permits. Nonetheless, it says it totally supports the urbanisation projects and that they will generate wealth and jobs for the region. Ronda has also assured the other municipalities in the zone that it will guarantee their water supplies.
Following the march, the president of the regional government, Manuel Chaves, stated that the various golf-course projects planned for the Ronda area all comply with town planning norms. It has also emerged that the former regional minister for Public Works, Jaime Montaner, is one of the participants in the Los Merinos Norte golf project, which will include an urbanisation of 780 homes.
COÍN PAYS LAST RESPECTS TO SONIA CARABANTES
By Oliver McIntyre
Most of Coín's population turned out Tuesday to pay their last respects to Sonia Carabantes, the local 17-year-old girl whose body was found on August 19, five days after she disappeared while on her way home from the town's feria. The coffin was on view in the town's Iglesia Parroquial de San Juan Bautista church from 15:00 until the funeral mass at 18:00, which was presided over by Málaga's bishop, Antonio Dorado. At the family's request the burial, which took place at Coín's San Fernando cemetery after the service, was private.
Among those attending the funeral were Srta Carabantes' schoolmates from the Licinio de la Fuente secondary school. As the new school year kicked off at the beginning of this week, the students, especially those who were close friends of Srta Carabantes', were provided psychological counselling and group-therapy activities.
Prior to the funeral, Srta Carabantes' mother, Encarnación Guzmán, withdrew the family's previous request for a second autopsy. She made the decision after forensic scientist José Antonio García Andrade reviewed the analyses from the original autopsy and concluded that the samples and tests from that procedure are sufficient for the ongoing investigation into the girl's murder.
CENTRE CLOSES TO VEHICLES FOR TRAFFIC-FREE DAYS
NEWS Staff Reporter
Malaga's historic centre is to be closed to vehicles on Sunday, September 21, and Monday, September 22, as the city takes part in Europe's Annual Car-Free Day.
This year marks the first time the Town Hall has extended the initiative to two days, with the city centre off limits to all traffic except public transport, emergency vehicles and motorbikes between 09:00 and 20:00. The municipal bus company EMT will be offering free transport on all buses from outlying districts to the centre.
Beginning at noon on Sunday, the Paseo del Parque will be turned into a games area with bouncy castles, beach badminton, activity workshops and a maze, table tennis exhibition and bike-repair centre. A bicycle circuit will be created around the Paseo del Parque, Avenida Manuel Agustín Heredia, Paseo Marítimo Antonio Machado and Calle Pacífico.
The European Car-Free Day has been celebrated since 1999 and aims to encourage citizens to use their feet more and their vehicles less, reducing air and noise pollution and improving inner city life generally. Municipal Traffic Department surveyors will be asking citizens for their ideas on how to improve normal traffic conditions.
Parking permit holders for the affected zone will be allowed to park in the port area and residents will be allowed access to their own car parks. All loading and unloading of merchandise will only be allowed from 06:00-09:00 and 20:00-24:00
BIG PLANS FOR COSTA'S HEALTHCARE FUTURE
Several Costa towns building or vying for new hospitals
By David Eade and Oliver McIntyre
WITH GROUND ABOUT TO BE BROKEN FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF TWO HOSPITALS IN BENALMÁDENA, AND MIJAS AND FUENGIROLA COMPETING OVER WHO CAN GIVE THE JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA THE BEST LAND FOR A NEW HOSPITAL TO SERVE THOSE TWO MUNICIPALITIES, COSTA HEALTHCARE FACILITIES APPEAR TO BE ON THE RISE.
Mijas Mayor Agustín Moreno last week announced that his town is prepared to offer the regional government a piece of property that is both bigger and has easier access than the property recently offered by Fuengirola Mayor Esperanza Oña for the construction of a new hospital. In turn, said Mayor Moreno, the Fuengirola site could be used for a new clinic that would provide that town's residents with their own primary-care facility and pull them away from the Las Lagunas health centre, which currently serves people from both towns. The mayor also expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that Mayoress Oña had made her proposal to the regional government without first consulting Mijas Town Hall.
Esperanza Oña, who also sits in the regional parliament as the Partido Popular's health spokeswoman, had pressed the case for the hospital to be established in her municipality at the parliament's first session after the summer recess. The lack of hospital facilities in Fuengirola has been one of the major concerns of the local population in recent years, and was a campaign issue for Sra Oña. According to her proposal, the Fuengirola hospital would have 60 beds and a 24-hour emergency department. It would have a surgical area with three operating theatres, six x-ray rooms and various consulting rooms including trauma, urology and gynaecology centres. If approved, she says it could be operational by May 2007
GROUNDBREAKING IN BENALMÁDENA
Meanwhile, in Benalmádena, Mayor Enrique Bolín announced last week that ground is about to be broken on both of the town's two new hospitals, one public and the other private. The 15-million-euro public hospital has a projected construction schedule of about two years, while the nearby private facility is expected to be completed in about 18 months.
NERJA TRAIN CHANGES TRACK
NEWS Staff Reporter
Changes have been signalled for Nerja's tourist 'trains'. The terms and conditions of the Town Hall contract to run the service next year show that only one vehicle, instead of the two presently operating, will be licensed to drive around the town. In addition, the terminus will move from Plaza Cavana to Avenida Castilla Pérez and the train will follow a fixed route, without intermediate stops.
However, a second train is planned, which for the first time will run outside the town centre to link Nerja with the caves and Maro village. The development follows requests from residents and visitors, and is expected to be a very attractive service, allowing holidaymakers to travel to the caves for around three euros per passenger. At present, the Town Hall is awaiting permission from Tráfico for the train to travel along the four kilometres of the N-340 linking Nerja and Maro.