News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week October 30th to November 5th 2003.
UPGRADE FOR CITIZEN SECURITY
46 million cash boost to reinforce National Police and Guardia Civil
By Danny Collins
PRESIDENT OF THE GOVERNMENT JOSÉ MARÍA AZNAR HAS ANNOUNCED A MASSIVE CASH BOOST TO NATIONAL CRIME FIGHTING AGENCIES IN THE WAR AGAINST TERRORISM AND ORGANISED CRIME IN SPAIN.
News of the Government plan was revealed in an inaugural ceremony for graduating recruits at the Guardia Civil Academy in Baeza, Andalucía, in which Sr Aznar was accompanied by Home Secretary Ángel Acebes, Secretary of State for Security Ignacio Astarloa and Guardia Civil Director Santiago López Valdivielso.
The cash injection will be directed at improving security in 330 police stations, upgrading 70 key barracks and the establishment of an anti terrorist external listening station on Fuerte-ventura, with 18 million euros devoted to the acquisition of state of the art helicopters and hi tech security material to aid in the identification and detention of rogue gangs preying on the community.
Although the leader of the Government made no direct mention to the recent PSOE proposal to merge National Police and Guardia Civil, he spoke strongly of the ‘military nature’ of the latter force, which he insisted confers ‘a degree of cohesion, discipline and impartiality, which converts it into a viable and efficient instrument to guarantee national security’.
WELCOME SECURITY BOOST
Citizens' Security pressure groups have welcomed the Government’s security cash boost, which is seen as a positive step in combating the immigrant crime wave that is now sweeping Europe.
BRIT TABLOID RE-LINKS VAZQUEZ TO WANNINKHOF MURDER
By Oliver McIntyre
Under the headline "Lesbian 'helped the Costa killer'", the British tabloid Daily Express last weekend printed a story stating that Tony Alexander King's friend Robbie Graham, under voluntary hypnosis, told investigators that Dolores Vázquez paid King 800 pounds to help her kill and remove the body of Rocío Wanninkhof.
King (a.k.a. Tony Bromwich, a.k.a. the Holloway Strangler) is accused of both the 1999 murder of 19-year-old Rocío Wanninkhof and the killing earlier this year of 17-year-old Sonia Carabantes in Coín. Dolores Vázquez was previously convicted of the Wanninkhof killing, but was released when her trial was annulled by the upper courts, and was awaiting a retrial when DNA evidence from the Carabantes case linked Mr King to both cases. Mr Graham was arrested as an accessory to the Coín killing, but later released without charges.
King made statements to investigators in which he confessed to both killings and claimed to have acted alone, the courts have since lifted restrictions on Dolores Vázquez and suspended the retrial, though the case has not been formally dropped. Investigators have indicated that they are not clear as to apparent contradictions in Sra Vazquez's previous testimony, particularly in regard to her car, which witnesses reported seeing near the scene of the crime and occupied by two young men.
Sra Vázquez reacted with indignation to the Daily Express story, the content of which was also printed in the local Spanish daily papers days later. She insists that she is completely innocent, and her lawyer, Pedro Apalategui, indicates that he has advised her to file a defamation suit against the British paper.
King's lawyer, Adrián Broncano, last week requested the Fuengirola court in charge of the Wanninkhof case to clarify the reported hypnosis-induced testimony of Mr Graham. In addition, Sr Broncano expressed his client's wish to testify before the Fuengirola court regarding the Wanninkhof case as soon as possible. King previously declined to testify when the Fuengirola judge went to the Alhaurín de la Torre prison to take his testimony.
BRITON FOUND STABBED IN ESTEPONA DOORWAY
By David Eade
A 67-year-old Briton citizen, born in Iran, was found lying in a pool of blood at 146 Avenida de España at 8.00 on Monday morning. He was discovered by a lawyer as he arrived at his office in the same building who immediately called the emergency services and the police.
According to the National Police the man had been stabbed five times in the head. He was rushed to hospital but died shortly afterwards. The assault took place in broad daylight in one of the main streets of Estepona in the entrance of a building that houses a bank and many offices.
The police have discounted robbery as being the motive but one possibility is that could be yet another 'settling of accounts'. The family of the deceased man flew in from the UK later on Monday and his body has been taken to Málaga for a post mortem.
BRIT ARRESTED FOR RAPE IN TORREMOLINOS
By Oliver McIntyre
Police in Torremolinos last week arrested a 24-year-old British man for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl in the restroom of a karaoke bar in the La Nogalera area of the town. The arrest of Stuart Paul I. marked the second time in a single week that a British man was arrested in Torremolinos for sexual offences against a minor. Just days earlier, polic arrested 55-year-old Frederick Wood for allegedly molesting an 11-year-old girl after taking her to Madrid on the pretext of being a famous talent agent who was going to break her into a music career (CDSN, October 23 - 29).
Police tracked down Stuart Paul I. after a nearly three-week manhunt following the attack, which occurred on October 4. The victim, who is also British and was in Torremolinos on holiday, told police the man locked her in the women's room, where her screams went unheard as he attacked her, drowned out by the loud music in the bar. When the attacker exited the bathroom and the girl was able to call for help, a client of the bar tried to stop him, but the man punched the customer and fled.
A police canvass of the area, in particular interviews with other British residents who recognised the description of the attacker, led police to the suspect, whom the victim then identified in a photograph. He was arrested on the morning of October 20.
According to the police, Stuart Paul I. has been arrested once before in Torremolinos on charges of robbery, and also has a record of eight arrests in the UK, though none were for sex-related crimes.
TWO FOREIGNERS SOUGHT AFTER RONDA MURDER
Hotel owner was hit in face and head before being asphyxiated
By David Eade
THE NATIONAL POLICE IN RONDA ARE WORKING WITH THE FORENSICS UNIT IN MÁLAGA TO INVESTIGATE THE MURDER OF THE OWNER OF A SMALL CENTRAL HOTEL IN THE TOWN OF THE TAJO. AMONGST THE PRIME SUSPECTS ARE TWO FOREIGNERS SEEN IN THE AREA AROUND THE TIME OF THE CRIME.
Although a local judge has ordered a news blackout, the following facts have been made known. The victim was Carmen Gálvez Ríos, the 58-year-old owner of the one-star Aguilar Hotel situated in Calle Naranja. The Cañete la Real native was discovered dead in one of the bedrooms of the establishment at mid-day by a cleaner who then called the police.
The chief inspector of the National Police in Ronda, José Luis Delgado, confirmed that the woman had suffered a violent death and did not discount the possibility that the motive was robbery, although other lines of enquiry were also being followed. A later post-mortem showed that the victim had been hit in the face and head before being asphyxiated. Relatives and friends said her hands had been bound with heavy-duty tape.
The Guardia Civil set up roadblocks at the various exit points from Ronda for most of the day in the hope of catching the authors of the crime as they attempted to flee. However, when CDSN went to press no arrests had been made.
The police are looking for a foreign couple who were near the hotel at the time of the murder. Police forensic officers have taken fingerprints and photographs of the toilets of a bar close to the hotel, where the pair spent some time before the discovery of the body.
RESIDENTS ANXIOUS OVER PLAYA DEL CRISTO DEVELOPMEN
By David Eade
The recent announcements on the planned enlargement of Estepona's Puerto Deportivo and the rumours of a possible deal between the town hall and the property company Marín Hilinger over land adjacent to the port has left the residents of the zone including many Britons in a state of unease.
The residents formed an action group under the title 'Association for the Defence of the Playa del Cristo' (Adepla) to prevent any development on a large parcel of land between their homes and the shoreline. As previously reported in the CDSN this land was transferred by the previous GIL administration to a municipal company, which then sold it on to Marín Hilinger.
Estepona Town Hall annulled the sale of the site by the municipal company that is now in liquidation. The municipality has said that it intended to place the land for sale by public auction despite the fact that Marín Hilinger is the property's registered owner. Now Adepla suspects that the town hall has reached a 'pact of convenience' with the developers, which would allow them to keep the site.
The president of Adepla, Juan José Serrano, complained about the secrecy that had descended over the negotiations between the Mayor of Estepona, Antonio Barrientos, and the representatives of Marín Hilinger, which have taken place in recent months. Sr Serrano added that if their fears prove to be true they would launch a case in the courts.
Residents have started a new poster campaign in their urbanisations in protest against the local administrations actions.
REGIONAL GOVERNMENT REPORTS NERJA TO ATTORNEY GENE
By Dave Jamieson
The regional government has reported Nerja Town Hall to the Attorney General's office. The move came following Nerja's decision to help local fishermen pay fines levied on them for fishing illegally off the shores of the municipality (CDSN, October 9 - 15) and has further raised the temperature in on-going rows between the Town Hall, governed by the Partido Popular, and the PSOE-controlled Junta de Andalucía.
Three weeks ago, it was reported that a local family was given 360 euros by Nerja Town Council in July to help pay a 600-euro fine for illegal fishing, after the guilty party proved that all three members of his family were unemployed. At the time, the delegate responsible for Agriculture and Fishing at the Junta, Ignacio Trillo, denounced the move, calling it 'illegal' and questioning the soundness of Nerja Town Hall in encouraging illegal fishing. Sr Trillo then further angered Nerja by announcing that a programme to preserve the Maro - Cerro Gordo natural park had been presented to the EU, but without including a proposed plan for park use and maintenance that, according to Nerja's councillor for Beaches, José Miguel García, had been 'promised many times'.
Last week's decision to escalate the fishing fines dispute, described by provincial delegate José María Rodríguez as a 'tough subject', was announced as an attempt to have the matter considered by an independent body. The Junta added that it had sent papers on the subject to the Attorney General because it could not accept public money being used by a Town Hall to help in the payment fines imposed by another administration.
The socialist group at the Andalucían parliament has previously stated that there may be a case of misappropriation of funds to be answered by Nerja. But the town's councillor for Fishing, José Miguel Jimena, last week reiterated the words of Mayor José Alberto Armijo, claiming that no unlawful act had been committed by the Town Hall. However, he did concede that in one case a 'material error' had been made and the money paid to help with a fine for illegal fishing actually went to pay a traffic fine.
'USE YOUR HEAD - WEAR YOUR HELMET'
Road safety programmes in Motril and Nerja
By Dave Jamieson
MOTRIL AND NERJA HAVE LAUNCHED CAMPAIGNS AIMED AT IMPROVING ROAD SAFETY FOR TWO-WHEELED DRIVERS.
Local police in Motril are intensifying their efforts to make motorcycle users aware of the importance of wearing a crash helmet. Under the slogan "Use your head, wear your helmet", they are stepping up controls on moped and motorbike riders and intend to impose sanctions on those who refuse to heed their advice.
Gerardo Ruiz Vilar, the councillor responsible, said that the increasing number of injuries and damage had prompted the campaign to prevent accidents amongst young people. Motril Town Hall released figures indicating that there are 73 per cent fewer deaths amongst riders wearing helmets compared with those without protection, and up to 85 per cent fewer injuries. They say that riders without crash helmets are three times more likely to suffer serious head injuries.
In Nerja, the youth department has launched a similar initiative, with leaflets being distributed on Friday and Saturday nights to young people in the town centre.
The action coincides with a proposal from the Ministry of the Interior to reform the law to include obligatory road safety education for all users.
THIEVES SMASH CAR INTO TORREMOLINOS SHOP
By Oliver McIntyre
Police in Torremolinos arrested two Bosnian men last week for an attempted smash-and-grab job in which the suspects allegedly rammed their car through the front door and wall of a business on Calle Europa. Officers responded to the scene after a witness called to report the car crash at 05:00 Thursday morning. The suspects fled on foot, but the police soon caught them hiding in a garden on Calle Dávila Bertoli.
According to the police report, the suspects resisted arrest, one brandishing a knife and the other striking an officer with a jack handle, causing sufficient injury to send the officer to hospital. Once they had the men under control, the police seized a large knife, two mobile phones, 2,117 euros in cash, and the keys to the car used in the attempted robbery, an Audi S3 with French number plates. They also confiscated a device used to de-scramble electronic security codes on high-end automobiles, leading the police to believe that the suspects, I.O. (22) and K.S. (20), may be linked to an organised car theft ring.
At 04:30 the same morning, at the El Pinillo Renfe station, police located a Porsche Cayenne that had previously been reported stolen in Marbella. They are investigating the possibility of a connection between the two crimes.
BIG COCAINE HAUL FOUND ON GIB BASED CATAMARAN
By David Eade
The Guardia Civil Maritime Service in the province of Huelva has made one of the biggest drug seizures in the province. More than a ton of cocaine was discovered on a catamaran in the recreational port of Mazagón, which also led to the arrest of three Frenchmen.
The huge drugs haul was hidden in the interior of the vessel 'Kaos' that had sailed from Gibraltar. It was seen entering the port by the four Guardia Civil officers on duty who noted that the catamaran was nearly sinking as it battled against the strong seas.
The officers asked the three-man crew if they needed assistance and on being told they didn't asked to see their documentation. According to the Guardia Civil the men were behaving in a very nervous manner and as an officer looked over the vessel he spotted a large quantity of bales in its interior.
After a complete search of the 'Kaos' officers discovered 43 bales, which contained in total 1,100 kilos of cocaine that was hidden in two compartments. Also on board were various items of navigation equipment as well as a state-of-the-art satellite telephone although no firearms were found.
The Guardia Civil arrested the three-man crew who offered no resistance. They were identified as being Frenchmen aged 34, 38 and 44 years. The drugs haul will be analysed then destroyed whilst officers question the men to try and discover what drugs network they were involved with.
POLICE DOG 'DAGO' FINDS HASHISH HAUL
The Guardia Civil recently needed the assistance of police dog Dago while searching a trailer of a lorry that arrived at the port of Algeciras from Morocco. They found carefully hidden inside its cargo of decorative stone items, which were supposedly destined for local gardens and terraces, a 2,500 kilos haul of hashish.
Star detection dog 'Dago' has been trained to sniff out hidden drugs and especially hashish and had no problem finding the illicit consignment hidden inside the stone ornaments. Officers smashed the items he identified which each contained five kilos of dope.
German Shepherd 'Dago', who is based with the Guardia Civil in Algeciras, has one of the best records in Spain in drugs detection. So far this year he has detected 13,126 kilos of hashish. His Algeciras partner, another German Shepherd called 'Reno', sniffed out 328 kilos of hashish hidden on a yacht in August. Both dogs play a major part in the national fight against drugs.
DEFRAUDED BRIT COUPLE REQUEST REMOVAL OF WEB SITE
NEWS Staff Reporter
A British couple, who filed charges against a Málaga real estate company after paying 126,000 euros for a country home in Comares and never being given possession of the property, has now requested that the judge in the case order the company to remove its Web site. Denise V.R. found the property on the Web site of a real estate agency, leading to the transaction in which she and her husband claim to have been defrauded by the company.
The couple's lawyer says there are at least three similar cases against the company and several more in the preparation stage. One involves another foreign customer who found a Fuengirola property on the Web site and paid 72,000 euros, but allegedly never received possession of the property.
The British couple is suing the company for the 126,000 euros they paid, plus the expenses they incurred during numerous trips from England throughout the process. According to their lawyer, a similar charge was filed against the estate agency last October, when another foreign purchaser had to resort to legal action to get back 91,000 euros nearly a year after paying for but not being given possession of a farmhouse in Cártama.