News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week December 4th to December 11th 2003.
WILL FOREIGN RESIDENTS VOTE IN EU ELECTIONS?
Nine of 10 are not registered for 2004 European Parliament voting
By Oliver McIntyre
LESS THAN 10 PER CENT OF REGISTERED ('EMPADRONADO') EU CITIZENS LIVING IN SPAIN ARE CURRENTLY ON THE SPANISH VOTING ROLLS FOR THE JUNE 2004 EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS, ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL STATISTICS INSTITUTE (INE).
Although there is no precise date set as the deadline, an INE spokesperson told CDSN that residents have until roughly the end of January to take the steps necessary to register for the EU vote.
There are 665,083 EU citizens (including those from the 10 countries scheduled to be admitted to the Union prior to the June vote) currently registered as residents in Spanish towns or cities. Of these, 62,278 are registered to vote in the European Parliamentary election - many because they registered for previous EU elections (the registration is permanent and is valid for all future elections once completed).
For the remaining 602,805 EU citizens registered as Spanish residents but not registered to vote from Spain in EU elections, the Electoral Census Office (OCE) is mailing a form that can be completed, signed and returned (no postage necessary) to the appropriate OCE Provincial Delegation.
The vast majority of EU citizens living in Spain are not registered as residents and thus will not receive the OCE mailing. In order to register to vote in the European Parliamentary elections, they must first become registered residents of their town or city. To do so they must go to their local Town Hall, where they can both register as a resident and, at the same time, fill out the necessary form to become registered for EU voting.
BRITS LEAD THE WAY
According to INE data, Brits make up the greatest block of EU citizens registered as residents in Spain, with 176,829, followed by Germans (135,743), Italians (73,316), French (70,273) and Portuguese (60,376). With a total of 76,864 registered European foreign residents, Málaga is behind only the province of Alicante (146,587) and is followed by Madrid (60,756), the Balearic Islands (59,716), Barcelona (57,220) and Santa Cruz de Tenerife (51,850).
GRAHAM ARRIVES FROM EGYPT TO TESTIFY
News Staff Reporter
Robert Terrence Graham, who was called by the judge in the Rocío Wanninkhof murder case to testify as a suspect after alleged double murderer Tony Alexander King accused him of the killing, has returned to Spain from Egypt in to testify, according to the Guardia Civil. It is expected that Graham will appear before the judge in the coming days. Sources close to the case indicate that once Graham's declaration is heard the judicial investigation will be nearly complete, pending a Guardia Civil report summarising the agency's activities and investigations since King's arrest.
Meanwhile, the Málaga Bar Association last week decided to open an informational investigation into the conduct of King's lawyer, Adrián Broncano. Sr Broncano has been accused by family members of the victims, as well as members of the press and of the legal community, of inappropriate trading in information, 'exclusive interviews' and television appearances related to his client's case.
MASSIVE STREET PROTEST OVER MARBELLA TAX HIKE
By David Eade
According to National Police figures over 8,000 people took to the streets of Marbella last week to protest at the Town Hall's decision to raise the IBI tax.
The mass demonstration through the centre of the town, from the Plaza de la Iglesia Divina Pastora to the Town Hall, saw members of the right wing Partido Popular marching alongside trade unionists. However it wasn't just the usual political activists who marched but entire families, old age pensioners and young people.
The main theme of the protest was to voice the people's opposition to the double tax whammy imposed on them by the Town Hall. An 11.6 per cent rise in the IBI tax would be bad enough but the tri-party administration has also called for a revision of the property values on which the tax is based. As the last review was in 1988 this will lead to a massive tax rise above the 11.6 per cent announced on October 27.
The 'Asamblea Ciudadana por la Regeneración Municipal' has so far presented 5,000 signatures against the tax rise in a petition that will close on December 12. Members are also meeting this week to plan the next major protest that will take place soon in San Pedro de Alcántara.
Where's the money?
The Tribunal of Accounts has embargoed the assets of former Marbella Mayor, Julián Muñoz, along with those of six former GIL councillors and municipal staff. The court is holding their assets as guarantee against the 61 million euros of municipal funds that its investigators claim has gone missing during the period 1991-1999.
CREW BLAMED FOR FATAL MÁLAGA AIR CRASH
Official report critical of training given to co-pilot
By Dave Jamieson
AN AEROPLANE CRASH AT MÁLAGA AIRPORT THAT KILLED FOUR, INCLUDING THE PILOT, AND LEFT 18 INJURED HAS BEEN ATTRIBUTED TO HUMAN ERROR.
The official investigation into the crash landing of an aircraft belonging to Binter Mediterráneo in August 2001, published last week, has concluded that the cause was "the incorrect execution by the crew of the emergency procedure in the case of fire or severe damage to in an engine, contained in the Operations Manual."
The report from Spain's Civil Aviation Authority says that a lack of co-ordination in the cockpit led to the consecutive shutdown of the aircraft's two motors. It says that a false warning of a fire in the left-hand motor, triggered by humidity or dirt in the fire detector circuit, caused the emergency procedure to be implemented. The pilot quickly stopped the motor that was thought to be on fire, since, from the cockpit, he could not visually confirm the situation, and advised Málaga control tower, declaring an emergency. At that stage, the aircraft was still capable of making a safe landing.
The cockpit voice recorder reveals that some seconds later a conversation began about what to do next. "What are you going to do?" asks the pilot, and a few seconds later the phrase, "switch the other" is heard, in reference to a second discharge of the engine fire extinguisher. A moment after, a noise is audible and is believed by investigators to be the control for the second motor, rather than the extinguisher, being moved. The last message heard by the control tower was, "We're without power!" A minute later, the aircraft hit the ground.
The report says that the error in switching off both motors was compounded by the crew's failure to advise the passengers and cabin crew of the imminent forced landing, so when it came, none had adopted the posture of protection against impact. The report continues: "It is considered that a fundamental factor in the accident was the training received by the co-pilot, which probably was insufficient with regard to emergency procedures."
The false fire emergency is noted by the report as not an isolated case. In 2000, two similar cases on aircraft of the same model and operated by Binter Mediterráneo had been reported. Following an incident in August that year, the fault was put down to a "slightly loose" cable but the pilot chose not to stop the affected motor, while the following October, the cause was a broken cable but in this instance, the pilot stopped the engine, landing safely on one motor.
CO-PILOT REMEMBERS NOTHING
Since the accident, Luis Checa, the co-pilot, has testified in court that he could recall nothing of the morning, and is reported to being suffering from extreme depression, aggravated by the death of his mother some months after the incident. He became a pilot in 1991 and had clocked-up more than 8,000 flying hours.
Publication of the official report immediately triggered demands for compensation for negligence from lawyers representing some of the dead and injured. Most of the victims are understood already to have finalised claims with Binter's insurers, but others are still to settle, with amounts estimated at between 90,000 and 180,000 for the injured, and up to 360,000 euros for families of the dead.
FAKE 50-EURO NOTE ALERT
NEWS Staff Reporter
Residents and traders in the Campo de Gibraltar region have been warned to keep a lookout for fake 50-euro notes after a routine Guardia Civil roadblock discovered 38 such counterfeit bills. When Guardia Civil officers stopped the car at the Taraguilla crossing in San Roque, they asked the occupants for their identification and noticed that one of them was acting nervous and pushed a packet down the front of his trousers.
The officers searched the man and found a bundle of 50-euro notes. They were all fake, but if circulated would have had a value of 1,900 euros. The Guardia Civil detained a 22-year-old Algeciras man accused of producing the fake notes.
EASTERN COASTAL RAIL SERVICES PLANNED
New tracks to be laid from Málaga to Nerja
By Dave Jamieson
MORE DETAILS HAVE EMERGED OF A FUTURE RAIL SERVICE FOR THE EASTERN COSTA DEL SOL.
A plan to provide rail services as far as Nerja have been seriously contemplated since 1995, but it was not until 2000 that Manuel Chaves, president of the Junta, formalised the project. Since then, viability and engineering studies have continued and, last week, consultants presented their findings to regional government's public works department. Today they are making the formal presentation to Sr Chaves.
The study, which incorporates upgrades to existing rail services west of Málaga, suggests the construction of 94 kilometres of double-line track, suitable for high speed travel, with eight stations east of the city and a terminus at Nerja. It suggests trains could be running by 2012.
From the outskirts of Málaga where El Palo would be the first eastern stop, the train would run alongside the N-340 coast road to Nerja, with intermediate stations at La Cala del Moral, Rincón de la Victoria, Benagalbón, Benajarafe, Torre del Mar, Caleta de Vélez and Torrox Costa. The 44 kilometres between Málaga city centre and Nerja would be covered in 30 minutes, half the time of the existing bus service, and has an estimated price tag of 860 million euros. The 30 kilometres of track within Málaga is already constructed, while work west of the city to the western terminus at Estepona would cost 1,576 million euros. A journey from Nerja to Estepona, a distance of 150 kilometres, would take 90 minutes.
The frequency of services to stations close to Málaga would be higher, recognising their status as dormitory towns serving the city, with a journey time of just ten minutes to Rincón. The terminus at Nerja would be situated on the site of the town's existing bus station, and the consultants have designed a system which would be suitable for extension even further east at some time in the future.
At Torre del Mar, the railway would interface with the new light transport system, presently under construction, providing a link to Vélez-Málaga, while in Málaga, it would meet Line 3 of the city's new metro service. With the arrival in Málaga of the AVE high speed rail link north to Sevilla and Madrid, as well as the branch to Granada, the eastern coast would then have a fast railway route to four major Spanish cities.
ILLEGAL FISHING IN THE STRAIT KILL 13,000 DOLPHINS
By David Eade
A TOTAL OF 17,000 DOLPHINS OF VARIOUS SPECIES ARE ILLEGALLY CAPTURED EACH YEAR IN THE WATERS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN AND THE STRAITS OF GIBRALTAR DUE TO THE USE OF ILLEGAL FISHING NETS.
The majority of the cetaceans, around 13,000 in total, perish in the waters of the Straits of Gibraltar according to data just released by the World Wildlife Fund/Adena. These statistics have been included in a document forwarded to the General Council on Fishing in the Mediterranean and the Diplomatic Conference of Venice by the NGO.
The majority of the 13,000 cetaceans captured in the Straits of Gibraltar belong to the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba). The common dolphin is included in the 'red list' of endangered species of the international union for the conservation of nature, which is part of the United Nations.
The main causes of this massacre, which also affects sharks and turtles, is the illegal use of drift nets. These nets called the 'curtains of death' are between 7,000 and 14,000 metres in length and have been banned by the EU since 2002.
The study by the WWF/Adena based on official date has established that the 177 fishing vessels of the Moroccan fleet capture 4,000 dolphins a year in the Straits of Gibraltar. Another 23,000 sharks of eleven different species are captured in the zone and the Mar del Alborán off the Costa del Sol. This figure leaps to 77,500 when the marine zones of western approaches to the straits and the Atlantic coastline of Africa are added to the equation.
Paolo Guglelmi is responsible for the WWF's maritime programme. He declared: "The data that we have gathered on the Moroccan fleet shows that illegal fishing with drift nets is massacring species of fish that are now becoming very vulnerable." He added that more than 4,000 kilometres of illegal nets were in use by the fleets of Morocco, France, Turkey and Italy as they fished in the Mediterranean.
RONDA'S ANTENNAS TO BE REMOVED
News Staff Reporter
The mobile telephone antennas at El Fuerte in Ronda have been the subject of many protests in recent years. The complex of antennas is situated close to three educational establishments. This had led to staff, pupils and parents blaming the antennas for the high incidence of cancer cases at the schools.
Now a recent meeting of Ronda town council has approved an agreement with the telephone company Telefónica that will see the El Fuerte complex removed by the end of the year. The agreement received the approval of all the political groups at the Town Hall except the Partido Popular.
Under the agreement the El Fuerte antenna complex will be replaced by three smaller antennas of a more modern design with less electrical output. They will be located on a multi-use building presently under construction, at the municipal cemetery and in the urbanisation of La Planilla.
Telefónica has agreed to pay Ronda Town Hall an annual rental of 4,500 euros for the three sites in an agreement lasting 15 years. However the PP would not back the new accord claiming that the Town Hall was obliged by a 2002 municipal ordinance to locate the antennas more than 600 metres from populated areas.
JUDGE HALTS BENALMADENA CONTRUCTION PROJECT
By Oliver McIntyre
A Torremolinos judge has ordered that construction be halted on one of three housing complexes being built in Benalmádena under the name ‘Las Tres Carabelas’. According to the judge, the approval of the licenses for the project may have been in conflict with planning and development laws. The order came after the judge reviewed a complaint filed by two neighbourhood associations, Casinomar and Fortunamar, challenging the legality of the development.
The company responsible for the project, Larios 2000, is building a total of 127 homes in a series of five-storey buildings alongside the Hotel Torrequebrada. In April 2003 the Coastal Authority warned that the development’s pools, gardens and parking areas were encroaching on maritime land. The Junta de Andalucía’s Public Works Department weighed in even earlier, in 2002, when it issued a report indicating that the five-storey buildings exceeded the height limit by two storeys.
Nonetheless, the Town Hall maintains that the project has all the proper licenses and was approved by the Coastal Authority and the Junta.
POWER CUTS PROMPT POWERFUL PROTESTS
News Staff Reporter
Two local mayors have made formal complaints to Sevillana about recent power cuts in their areas. The Mayor of Rincón de la Victoria, José Jesús Domínguez Palma, wrote to Sevillana in Málaga regarding the outages suffered in his municipality during recent rainstorms, which left the area blacked-out for most of one afternoon. He has asked for compensation for 'the problems caused to our residents in general, and the damage and financial loss caused to businesses'.
Motril's Mayor, Carlos Rojas, has written a similar letter to Sevilla-Endesa in Granada complaining about on-going problems, the most recent cut having come last week. Sr Rojas makes reference to a substation which is still not functioning some years after its construction, and says that without a reliable electricity supply, the work of the Town Hall in building Motril's wealth, employment and tourist potential is being prejudiced.