News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week April 22nd to April 28th 2004.
HUNT FOR COSTA FUGITIVE
Police killer could be at large in the Fuengirola area
BY DAVID EADE
THE METROPOLITAN POLICE ARE ASKING BRITONS ON THE COSTA DEL SOL TO KEEP A LOOKOUT FOR ONE OF THE UK’s MOST WANTED MEN, ESCAPED CONVICT JAMES HURLEY.
James Francis Hurley is a convicted murderer who officers believe might be on the run in Spain after fleeing his hiding place in Ireland. Police believe he could be in the Fuengirola area where he is thought to have contacts with bar owners in the town.
The Metropolitan police spokesman said: “We are asking for information regarding the whereabouts of 42-year-old James Francis Hurley, a convicted murderer and armed robber, who escaped while bring transferred between prisons on February 16 1994. We are offering a reward of up to £10,000 for information leading to the arrest and re-imprisonment of Hurley, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989 having been convicted of murder, armed robbery and firearm offences.”
Hurley was the getaway driver for a gang of three men who carried out an armed robbery on a security van outside a branch of Barclays Bank in Hemel Hempstead on April 14 1988. An off-duty Hertfordshire PC, Frank Mason, attempted to intervene in the robbery and was shot in the back as he attempted to arrest one of the suspects. PC Mason died of his injuries and was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.
On February 16 1994 Hurley was in the process of being transferred to Wandsworth prison by bus. As it travelled along Swandon Way, SW18, Hurley and another prisoner threatened a prison officer with a knife thus managing to escape. At present Hurley is the only convicted murderer of a police officer in the UK who is on the run.
SCOTLAND YARD HOTLINE
Any information on the whereabouts of James Francis Hurley should be passed on to Scotland Yard’s Wanted hotline on 00 44 207 7233 4128. Hurley, who probably has access to firearms, should not be approached.
Guardia row sparks airport strike threat
By Dave Jamieson
Málaga Airport is once again under strike threat. Employees of the airport operator, Aena, have called for stoppages on various dates starting next Friday, April 30, and including the first weekend of May. The workers are angry about what they refer to as the “retaliation” shown by the Guardia Civil following a demonstration on March 3 when around 200 employees participated in nationwide protest action against planned privatisation. In one of eight complaints subsequently lodged against Guardia officers at the airport and presently being investigated by Aviación Civil, it is alleged that a demonstrator was assaulted by a Guardia member during the demo. Amongst the workers, other complaints is an allegation that, during March, Aena spent 5,500 euros on providing meals for Guardia officers while Aena employees had to pay for theirs.
Aviación Civil has supported the Guardia Civil over the incidents on March 3, saying that the demonstrators were impeding the way of passengers and blocking entrances to the airport buildings, and that some had had to be removed from restricted areas. Workers are due to meet national representatives today, April 22, for further discussions, while travellers can only wait to discover if their dispute with the Guardia Civil will lead to disruption and delays.
Judge releases 11-M suspects arrested in Málaga
By Oliver McIntyre
The three Moroccan men arrested early last week in Málaga and Coín in relation to the March 11 terrorist bombings in Madrid (CDSN, Apr. 15 – 21) were released later last week after making declarations before the judge in charge of the investigation, Juan del Olmo.
In their declarations, the men admitted to knowing some of the other suspects who have been arrested in the investigation, but denied that they participated in any way with the 11-M attacks or that they have any links to Islamic terrorism, according to officials.
Two of the released men, Addelghafour Adderrazzak and Mohammed Amaoua Dahdouh, admitted that they knew Said Berraj – a chief suspect believed to have fled from Leganés (Madrid) when a group of terrorists blew themselves up in an apartment building there – from their days together in a Spanish school in Tangiers. The other, Mohamed El Barrouchi, denied that he knew Berraj was involved in the 11-M attacks, but said he had heard from his family that Berraj was being sought by police (El Barrouchi is the brother-in-law of Berraj’s wife).
At the time of the three arrests in Málaga and Coín, investigators indicated that Berraj may have stayed at the home of one of the men in the days just prior to the 11-M attacks. Investigators say Berraj had links to Serhane Ben Abdelmajid, known as ‘El Tunecino’, the suspected leader of the 11-M train bombings believed to be one of the seven terrorists that died in the April 3 Leganés apartment explosion, in which one Spanish Special Operations police agent was also killed.
Vélez approves major town changes
News Staff Reporter
The approval by the Vélez-Málaga Town Council of proposed changed to the municipality has started the process of amending local ordinances to accommodate them. A meeting last week gave the go-ahead to a string of plans demanding major changes to the town’s urbanisation by-laws which have been in place since 1996. The Town Hall has also undertaken to open a public debate so that residents can have a voice in planning the future of their area.
The Council’s intent is that Vélez-Málaga should be the capital of the Axarquía and the province’s eastern coast, with adequate resources for administration, education, sport and cultural activities. Amongst the proposals to be studied in the coming months are new residential zones in Chilches, Cajiz, Valle Niza, Benajarafe, Trapiche, Almayate, Vélez, Torre del Mar and Lagos. Each will be between 1.5 and 3 million square metres in area and together may accommodate as many as eight new golf courses. Communications are highlighted with improvements to the N-340, better links with outlying communities, and attention to the flow of traffic in Torre del Mar. New leisure areas and a new industrial estate north of Vélez are also in the pipeline. To augment existing tourist attractions, marinas could be created at Playa Fenicia in Almayate and at Lagos, complementing the existing facilities at Caleta.
Record hashish crop in Morocco
Officials establish link between drugs and terrorism
By David Eade
ACCORDING TO FRANCISCO MENA, THE PRESIDENT OF THE ANTI-DRUG ORGANISATION 'ALTERNATIVAS', THIS YEAR MOROCCO WILL HAVE THE LARGEST HASHISH CROP IN ITS HISTORY.
Addressing an Alternativas conference in San Pablo de Buceite, he stated that the total crop is estimated at being more than 3.5 million kilos, cultivated on some 120,000 hectares of land. As a comparison, Sr Mena pointed to the fact that Andalucía has around 80,000 hectares given over to the growing of cotton. He added that the hashish crop was of a very high grade, and 20 times faster growing than it was 10 years ago, due to genetic modifications to the crop.
Alternativas places the value of the hashish passing through the Campo de Gibraltar region at around 144 million euros. Another 2,000 tons a year, valued at over 576 million euros, arrives on other shores in Andalucía, according to the group. "This money", said Sr Mena, "is principally aimed at purchasing luxury cars and homes - and, lamentably, on terrorism."
DRUGS FINANCED MARCH 11
The Andalucía ombudsman, José Chamizo de la Rubia, addressing the same Alternativas conference, confirmed that it has now been established that those who carried out the March 11 terrorist bomb attacks in Madrid funded their activities from drug trafficking.
He added: "Today we talk about the financing of terrorist groups with money produced by drug trafficking. In Spain this is a new development but it is not in other parts of the world."
Concern and action in face of domestic violence su
By David Eade and Oliver McIntyre
The Andalucía High Court has noted a deep concern at the steep rise in the number of domestic violence cases in the region. The president of the court, Augusto Méndez de Lugo, said that last year the courts in Andalucía registered 7,121 domestic violence cases, a jump of between 60 and 70 per cent on 2002.
In 2003 a total of 18 women died in Andalucía from domestic violence. The court's annual report stated that this class of violence "is an extraordinary phenomenon that has taken root in society." It added that if social politics and education cannot put a stop to the problem then there is no reason to believe that the mechanism of repressive sentencing will work either.
The report recognised the advances that had been made to speed up the hearing of domestic violence cases, but also acknowledged the difficulties facing the courts when the abuse is of a psychological rather than physical nature. It also noted the necessity for co-ordination between the various security forces to ensure the enforcement of protection orders so as to avoid a repeat of the case in Cúllar Vega in Granada, where a woman under protection was run over and killed by her partner.
Meanwhile, some towns are taking direct action to tackle domestic abuse locally. Álora Town Hall last week announced the creation of a local Commission on Domestic Abuse, an entity that brings together multiple social-services and law-enforcement agencies to fight against domestic violence. The Álora commission is the seventh such local body to be created in the province of Málaga.
More delays for Benalmádena marina expansion
Road access solution requires new panning documents
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
BENALMÁDENA MAYOR ENRIQUE BOLÍN’S LONG AND HARD-FOUGHT BID FOR THE EXPANSION OF THE TOWN’S MARINA HIT YET ANOTHER SNAG LAST WEEK, AS THE JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA DEMANDED THE CREATION OF AN ‘INTER-MUNICIPAL PLANNING ORDINANCE’.
This new planning ordinance is due to part of the project affecting an area on the border between Benalmádena and Torremolinos.
Sr Bolín believed the project was ready to move forward, following the Coastal Authority’s approval of a plan to improve traffic access to the marina, a condition the Junta had previously put on its approval of the project.
BENALMÁDENA –TORREMOLINOS BORDER HITCH
Now, according to a written correspondence the Mayor has received from the Junta, it is that very road-access solution that requires the new inter-town planning document, as it involves the capping of the Arroyo del Saltillo, which sits on the municipal border. In addition, the Junta says the Town Hall still needs to provide an environmental impact statement, as well as a report from the Confederación Hidrográfica del Sur regarding the effects of the project on the Arroyo del Saltillo streambed.
Mayor Bolín last week expressed his frustration at what to him has seemed like a never-ending series of hoops the Town Hall has had to jump through to gain approval for the marina expansion. He stated that he found the Junta’s continued placement of obstacles to the project nearly unbelievable, given the widely recognised demand for additional boat moorage on the Costa del Sol. Already, he pointed out, the project has been modified five times since it was first proposed in 1996, and now includes less than half of the originally envisioned 2,200 moorage slips, as well as dramatically less parking and commercial space.
Torre del Mar shooting investigated
News Staff Reporter
Police investigating the case of a Belgian man found with a serious firearms wound have unearthed more than they expected. On the evening of March 22, a Guardia Civil patrol unit was called to attend a car which had left the old N-340 road in Torre del Mar, and when they arrived, found the 58-year-old man inside the vehicle with a bullet lodged in his thorax. The critically injured man was taken to the Hospital Comarcal in Vélez-Málaga for emergency treatment and investigating officers from the National Police at first believed he had been the victim of a “settling of accounts” between arms dealers.
However, a closer inspection of the vehicle, a Nissan Terrano, produced fragments of what appeared to be a pen, but what was later identified as a point 22 pistol manufactured so as to appear to be a writing implement. The bullet removed from the Belgian was forensically examined, and confirmed as having been fired by such a weapon. Investigators now believe that the gun went off accidentally, and are seeking two French citizens in connection with the incident.
Telephones top consumer complaints list
BY DAVID EADE
IN THE FIRST THREE MONTHS OF THIS YEAR FUENGIROLA’S MUNICIPAL CONSUMER INFORMATION OFFICE (OMIC) RECEIVED A TOTAL OF 185 FORMAL COMPLAINTS.
In addition another 350 people raised complaints informally over the telephone or at the OMIC’s office situated in the Mercacentro building.
Topping the list for customer’s formal complaints was the telephone sector covering both fixed and mobile phones. The subject of the complaints were cutting off of the service, overpriced bills, difficulty in ending the service contract for mobile phones and the slowness in repairing mobile phones.
However it was not only the telephone companies that raised the consumer’s ire. Electricity supply, electrical goods, furnishings, hotels and restaurants, banks, insurance companies, clothing and footwear as well as car repairs were also well represented.
PROPERTY RENTAL PROBLEMS COME IN SECOND
Of the 350 other calls the majority related to property rental problems. The main complaints or queries involved irregularities over tenancy contracts or the rights and obligations of the property owner and the tenant.
The councillor responsible for consumer affairs, José Ramón Arriarán, said of the statistics: “Across all of them we detect a better awareness and knowledge in general on the part of the town’s residents of the existence of the OMIC office.”
Nonetheless, the OMIC says that many residents believe that they can only use the office’s services if they wish to make a formal complaint. Sr Arriarán wishes to stress that is not so. The OMIC can also answer general queries or offer advice on all consumer matters and is contactable by telephone on 952 479 500 ext 244.
Alhaurín folklore group invited to Ireland
By Oliver McIntyre
The Solera Cultural Association in Alhaurín de la Torre has been invited to represent Spain at an exclusive folklore festival in County Mayo, Ireland, to be held April 23 to 26. Solera, founded in 1990, has as its mission “the study and dissemination of popular traditions and folklore,” according to Alhaurín Town Hall. The group performs traditional music and dance, outfitted in period or regional costumes appropriate to each performance. It is the organisation responsible for the annual International Folklore Festival in Alhaurín de la Torre, held each year on the first Saturday of July.
Solera is one of only about a dozen groups, representative of different European countries, that were invited to participate and perform during the festival in County Mayo. As opposed to the large Europeade Festival, which brings together a huge conglomeration of nearly 200 groups in a grand celebration of folk traditions, this one is a much smaller and more elite gathering, according to Solera’s president, Mayte Pérez-Loyzaga. “Europeade is more show, while this festival is a bit more pedagogical,” she says. “It doesn’t consist of just music and dance performances, but also conferences and other events surrounding folklore and tradition.”
Solera is the only Spanish group to be invited to the Mayo festival. Despite the normal 20-member-per-group limit at the event, organisers made an exception for Solera, allowing it to bring a total of 35 dancers, singers and musicians – a special concession “that fills us with satisfaction,” says Sra Pérez-Loyzaga.
Flamingos flock in
Record-setting spring for flamingos at Fuente de Piedra
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
THE HEAVY EARLY-SPRING RAINS IN THE MÁLAGA AREA WERE A WELCOME DEVELOPMENT TO AT LEAST ONE GROUP OF PART-TIME RESIDENTS: THE FLAMINGOS AT THE FUENTE DE PIEDRA LAGOON.
The higher level of the lagoon – currently 66.5 centimetres at its deepest parts – has attracted a record-breaking number of the birds, which use the site as a seasonal migration stop and breeding grounds. There are now over 32,900 flamingos at Fuente de Piedra, 13,000 more than were at the site last April, according to official counts. The last time the lagoon was anywhere near as crowded with the tall, pink birds was summer 1996, and even then there were 4,000 fewer than this year.
According to the director of Fuente de Piedra, Manuel Rendón, over 13,000 mating couples have paired up at the lagoon, and already some eggs have been laid and in some cases even hatched, though as yet there has been no survey of the number of chicks.
The annual flamingo banding that for the last decade scientists and volunteers have carried out at the lagoon normally occurs in July, but this year may occur later due to the hatchings coming in ‘waves’ as a result of weather fluctuations during autumn and winter.