News - Costa del Sol Archive 2004-03-31

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive

In association with

The Costa del Sol weekly newspaper, on sale at newsagents.

Week March 25th to March 31st 2004.


Tangiers base for al Qa’ida operations investigated

By David Eade

It has been established that al Qa’ida and other Islamic fundamentalist groups of the ‘Salafismo Combat (Salafiya Jihad)’ are based in Morocco. From there they are believed to have sent sleepers to Spain, Germany, Italy and the UK to take part in future terrorist attacks as part of Osama bin Laden’s network.

Morocco’s security and secret services state that there are around 1,500 Moroccans who have fought in Afghanistan; directly or indirectly they now form the terrorist nucleus of al Qa'ida. The majority were in Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight against the Russian invasion but there is a second group made up of younger, more fanatical men who received their terrorist education at the hands of the Taliban.

Four Moroccans were arrested in the USA after the September 11 attacks and all are alleged to be members of al Qa'ida. Seventeen Moroccans are being held at the US military base at Guantánamo in Cuba after being detained in Afghanistan and as many as 50 could be amongst the 600 terrorists captured as Taliban fighters.


The Moroccan investigator of Islamic extremist movements, Mohamed Darif, believes that his fellow countrymen in the al Qa'ida movement play the role of carrying out the operations. In contrast he says that the Egyptian and Saudi members plan the violent attacks and direct the terrorists.

The Spanish security forces consider that the Moroccans arrested in Spain for the Madrid bombings are part of an al Qa'ida group based in Tangiers. It is believed that this city on the Straits of Gibraltar is currently playing host to the networks of violent Islamics.

Tangiers is the frontier between two countries, Morocco and Spain, as well as the two continents of Africa and Europe. Intelligence officers are convinced it is now the crossroads of international Islamic terrorism and the base of a fundamentalist rearguard. Furthermore their activists can move with relative freedom and are known to mix with criminal and drugs gangs to avoid the police.



New security form brings holiday headaches

Nerja tourism firms must collect clients’ personal data

By Dave Jamieson

HOLIDAY BUSINESSES IN NERJA ARE ASSESSING THE IMPLICATIONS OF BEING AMONGST THE FIRST IN SPAIN OBLIGED TO MEET INCREASED SECURITY PRECAUTIONS. Around 200 firms have received a letter from the local Guardia Civil offices in Calle San Miguel advising them that, to meet the requirements of an order published by the State last July, they must start recording additional details of anyone age 16 or over who stays in their properties. Implementation of a similar procedure is believed to be progressing throughout the country’s major tourist destinations, with the data collated being made available to Interpol, as part of Spain’s drive against terrorism. In Nerja, completion and submission of the forms becomes compulsory on Saturday, March 27.

At this stage, it is understood that details have to be written in black ink, block capitals and in Spanish, and include name, number and expiry date of passport (or other relevant document), sex, date of birth, nationality, and date of arrival, as well as details of the establishment. The form must then be stamped by the establishment and signed by the visitor. A separate form must be completed for each person who stays even just one night in any of the town’s hostal or hotel beds, in private accommodation booked through a holiday rental company, on a campsite or anywhere else regarded as being within the tourism ambit.

The obligation to complete and return the forms is with the property owner or rental company, not the holiday maker, and penalties will apply if forms are not submitted within 15 days of arrival. The Guardia Civil, who are believed to be assigning two officers in Nerja to handle the avalanche of paperwork generated, will accept the forms by hand, by fax, on floppy disks, or via the Internet. In addition, the originators must keep copies of the forms for three years.

The Foreign Office in London told Costa del Sol News this week that the Guardia Civil in Málaga claim there is nothing new in the requirement, which has been applied by hotels in Spain for many years. The decision to extend it to short-term rentals, which previously has been less rigorously enforced, would therefore appear to be the Guardia tightening up procedures. They confirmed that the onus is on the individual or company renting the property.



Lottery winner blames Mi6 for lost fortune

Agency allegedly gave crook immunity for helping with anti-drug ops

By David Eade

Mr Papworth, from Welwyn Garden City, came to the Costa del Sol with more than £4 million in the bank after having given the rest of his winnings to his family. He splashed out on a yacht and a top-of-the range S-class Mercedes. Then he met the London career criminal Joe Wilkins, posing as John Fay.

John Fay was living in Estepona and persuaded Mr Papworth to invest part of his winnings in a luxurious apartment and a boatyard. He also convinced him to place the remainder of his winnings in a Marbella bank account. In the BBC Newsnight interview, Mr Papworth claimed he was then arrested by police who planted a bag of cocaine in his Mercedes. Whilst he was in jail serving a 30-month sentence, Fay allegedly stole the deeds to his flat, deprived him of his share in the boatyard and took all the cash from his Marbella bank account, which, unknown to him, was in their both their names.

Now Mr Papworth claims his misfortune is the fault of MI6 - an outlandish allegation maybe, but with some supporting evidence. It recently emerged, during the collapse of a London money-laundering case, that Joe Wilkins, a.k.a. John Fay, had been an informer for both MI6 and Scotland Yard. He was recruited to help in anti-drug operations, for which he received virtual immunity. As reported in CDSN at the time, the judge threw out the money-laundering case against 10 men, ruling that there had been 'massive illegality' and illegitimate entrapment.

Just as his role in the entrapment case came to light, Joe Wilkins died suddenly in Estepona at the age of 68.




Motorways change codes

NEWS Staff Reporter

Public Works has announced a series of code changes for main motorways and highways throughout Spain. The modifications accommodate the construction of new highways and the introduction of the new 'AP' code for toll roads (Autopistas de Peaje). Motorists are advised to take not of the new denominations when planning routes.

Code changes within the Andalucía region are as follows.


A-4 Sevilla-Cádiz toll motorway now becomes AP-4
A-7 Málaga-Guardiaro toll motorway is now AP-7
N-IV Madrid-Sevilla motorway (and Jerez A-48) is now A-4
N-332 Bailén-Linares motorway becomes A-32
N-340 Barcelona-Algeciras motorway is now A-7
N-323 Baílen-Motril motorway becomes A-44
A-44/N-331 Variante Aguilar/Antequera-Málaga becomes A-45
N-340/A-4 San Fernando-Algeciras is now A-48
A-49 Sevilla-Ayamonte remains A-49
A-66 León-Sevilla remains A-66

Urban highways:

N-344 eastern access road to Almería becomes AL-12
N-432 northern access road to Córdoba changes to CO-31
H-49 access road Huelva is now H-31
N-340 eastern access road to Málaga via La Araña becomes MA-24
SE-30 Sevilla ring road remains SE-30
N-351 access road to Gibraltar changes to CA-34
N-IV San Fernando-Cádiz highway becomes CA-33
N-354 access road to the Málaga port is now MA-22


Parents accuse Cártama police of attacking son

NEWS Staff Reporter

The father of a 17-year-old Cártama youth has filed a 'denuncia' with the Guardia Civil, claiming that a local police officer physically attacked his son at the town's police station. The local police deny the charge, claiming that it was the youth who attacked officers.

According to the father, Manuel S., the incident occurred after a Cártama police officer stopped the youth when he was walking with his motorbike in the wrong direction on Calle Concepción. The father charges that, once at the police station, his son was ordered to move the motorbike to the impound area of the station's garage, but as he mounted the bike to do so the officer grabbed him around the chest, pulled him off and began to hit him. He was then taken into the station, where he tried to call his father from his mobile phone but was struck again by the officer, this time with a police stick, according to the father, who says he heard the scuffle from the other end of the phone. When the father went to the police station, he claims, an officer implied that if no charges were filed the youth would be let off.

The Cártama local police, via the town's councillor for Security, Francisco García, denied that the youth was beaten at the police station and stated that it was in fact the 17-year-old who 'insulted' officers and kicked one of them. According to Sr García, the officer who is accused of striking the youth was put on medical leave due to injuries he suffered. Nonetheless, the councillor indicated that the case will be investigated and appropriate action will be taken against the party or parties found responsible.



Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson honoured in Churriana

Churriana Plaza to be named after Málaga’s ‘adopted daughter’


By Oliver Mcintyre


At the time of her death last year she was about to be officially named an ‘adopted daughter’ of the province. Mrs Grice-Hutchinson died at 93 on April 17, 2003, and was laid to rest in her much beloved English Cemetery in Málaga, the subject of one of her most popular books.

Having frequently visited her father’s San Julian ‘cortijo’ beginning in the 1930s, Mrs Grice-Hutchinson settled permanently in Málaga in the mid-50s. She was witness to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, and together with her father helped fleeing Spaniards to Gibraltar on their yacht, bringing back desperately needed medicine and food for the people of Churriana.

Her later career in economics included working with Nobel Laureate economist Frederich von Hayek. During her nearly half-century in Málaga, she published books including the well-known ‘Málaga Farm’ as well as ‘Children of the Vega: growing up on a farm in Spain’, ‘Early Economic Thought in Spain’ and ‘The English Cemetery’, as well as economic studies on Andalucía and many other subjects.

The posthumous naming of the Churriana Plaza in her honour is just the latest in a lifetime of awards and recognition for Mrs Grice-Hutchinson. In 1959 she was awarded the Orden del Mérito Civil for the social work she carried out in Churriana after the Civil War and in 1975 she received an OBE from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.



New plans foresee a golfing future for Vélez

And Torrox gives go-ahead to new 250 hectare course

By Dave Jamieson

The Town Hall last week presented proposed changes to the municipality’s general urbanisation order which would see a number of new commercial developments, as well as expanded urban development, improved communications, further industrial development and more attractions for tourists, including two marinas.

The Vélez urbanisation councillor, José Luis Sánchez Toré, said that nine large zones would be urbanised in Chilches, Cajiz, Valle Niza, Trapiche, Almayate, Torre del Mar, Vélez and Lagos. Existing non-urbanised areas would be reviewed with a view to delimiting them, while a large recreation area is envisaged between Torrox and Algarrobo, next to the River Seco. Vélez has also been looking at the tourist potential of golf and is proposing up to eight new courses, including Juvigolf at Chilches, another in Valle Niza and a third at Playa Fenicia which would be linked to a future archaeological park. Others under consideration are at Chilches, Trapiche, Almayate, Benajarafe and Lagos. Further tourist attractions could also one day include marinas at Playa Fenicia and Lagos, while further expansion of Caleta port is planned to expand the number of moorings available to leisure craft.

The Town Hall’s documentation also refers to developing the old N-340 main road through the municipality as an “urban avenue” as well as improving transport links with the interior. However, residents will see no construction work for some years as Vélez’ plans to change urbanisation plans are linked to the new Andalucían land laws and the requirement to define future development plans.

Meanwhile, Torrox Town Hall has approved plans for a new tourist complex in the area known as Calaceite. Last Thursday’s council meeting gave the thumbs up to the project which will include 2,500 houses – 300 more than initially planned – and a 250 hectare golf course.




RBL Honorary President

In a ceremony at Mijas Town Hall on Tuesday, the Royal British Legion Mijas Costa Branch officially named Mayor Agustín Moreno 'Honorary President' of the local branch. In addition to a plaque documenting the Mayor's new title, Branch Chairperson Doreen Peplow gave him an RBL pin containing the Mijas coat of arms, and Branch President Bernie Watson (on left in photo, shaking hands with the Mayor) presented him a bottle of fine scotch. "It's a real honour. I'm very pleased to be named Honorary President of the Mijas Costa RBL and to have the group here doing all the things they do in the town," said the Mayor.



Butane-repair scam alert

By Oliver McIntyre

Torremolinos Town Hall last week circulated a warning regarding a scam in which a supposed butane-repairman arrives at a person's home and insists that he needs to inspect the gas canister, valve and tubing, and then makes a repair to either the valve or tubing and charges the occupant.

According to the consumer association Facua, there is no reason why a butane serviceman should appear unannounced and unsolicited to make inspections or repairs. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to have the gas system inspected every five years if it is a canister system and every four years if it is direct-delivery piped gas. The consumer can contract whatever licensed service company he or she chooses, says Facua. Replacement of parts like the tubing and valve can even be performed by the consumer himself, the organisation says.

In the alert circulated by Torremolinos Town Hall, one Benalmádena apartment owner indicated that his renter, a foreign resident, fell for the bogus butane-repair scam and the worker even had the victim sign a receipt for the work, making it more difficult to dispute the charges. "They took advantage of the renter's ignorance," he said. "They showed an identification card that the renter didn't even understand."


Two hours free parking for Marbella shoppers

News Staff Reporter


The association of small and medium businesses in Marbella and San Pedro (Apymen) has long blamed the giant commercial centres on the outskirts of the municipality for its member’s loss of trade. The group also believes that the lack of parking in central Marbella and San Pedro is another reason for shoppers staying away.

Now the association is fighting back by reaching an agreement with three car park operators, two in the centre of Marbella and the other in San Pedro. Under the accord shoppers will receive two hours free parking if they spend more than 12 euros in an Apymen shop or business.

In this way Apymen hopes to attract shoppers back to the traditional central shopping zones of Marbella and San Pedro. President, Antonio Núñez, said this pioneering initiative would only cost the traders 1.5 euros per shopper but could revitalise the centre of town as a shopping venue.


Cudeca Walkathon 2004

NEWS Staff Reporter

Sunny weather, healthy exercise and a good cause attracted almost 400 participants to last weekend’s Cudeca Walkathon 2004. Groups of walkers donning the event's bright red T-shirts filled the three different walking routes throughout Benalmádena last Sunday, including the paths up to the Calamorro Peak and the centre of Arroyo de la Miel. All the groups joined together at the Benalmádena Municipal Auditorium to form a walking sea of red for the final stretch along the Paseo Marítimo.

In addition to the inscription fees, many walkers collected sponsorship funds or donated extra money, while other donations were given by numerous ‘solidarity walkers’ who wanted to support the event but were unable to participate, says Cudeca. Business sponsors like El Monte Savings Bank and Selwo Marina made important economic donations, and over 30 local business supporters, including the Costa del Sol News, donated their goods and services to make the walkathon an important fundraising event for the cancer hospice.

The centre says the funds raised in this year's events will help it move toward its goal of opening the In-Patient Unit of the Hospice Centre before 2005. “Cudeca thanks all participants and friends for the continuing support of our Cancer Care Hospice Programme,” a spokesperson told CDSN.