News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week May 13th to May 19th 2004.
A HOWLING SUCCESS
The sun shone, the wind dropped and the crowds arrived in hoards for the first dog show in Nerja to raise funds for the Costa Animal Society. In classes ranging from Best Pedigree Dog and Bitch, to Best Six Legs (dog plus owner!) and Best Agility (with some dogs carried over the obstacles in desperation), dozens of canines brought along their humans and raised 2,400 euros for the charity, which looks after stray and abandoned animals in the area. Special attention was paid to rescued dogs, with several owners relating sad stories of how their pets had been abused prior to being adopted for a second chance. A similar event in Cómpeta two weeks earlier raised a further 2,000 euros for CAS.
COSTA FLATS SIT EMPTY
Thirty per cent of Málaga’s properties remain unoccupied
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
THE NATIONAL STATISTICS INSTITUTE (INE)AND LA CAIXA HAVE REVEALED THAT AS MANY AS 108,000 PROPERTIES IN THE PROVINCE OF MÁLAGA ARE UNOCCUPIED DURING THE MAIN PART OF THE YEAR.
The Confederation of Neighbourhood Associations (CAVA) estimates that as many as 30 per cent of homes in the province have nobody living in them.
Analysts report that the area of the province with the greatest percentage of unoccupied homes is the zone between the Guadalhorce Valley and the Serranía de Ronda, from Cañete la Real to Alhaurín el Grande. The area includes El Burgo, Casarabonela, Alozaina de Monda. Other towns with high non-occupancy rates are Torrox, Ojén, Estepona, Torremolinos and Benalmádena.
The biggest concern that results from the rise in unoccupied properties lies in the inflationary effects of real estate speculation, which makes it difficult for lower-income families, the elderly or the young to find affordable housing.
La Caixa and INE figures confirm that the province of Málaga ranks sixth in the country for the number of non-occupied homes. The reasons behind the empty dwellings include part-time use for holidays, investors purchasing multiple flats in speculation of price increases, and fear of the hassles involved in trying to rent out the property.
MORE TAXES ON EMPTY HOMES?
Associations like CAVA have begun calling for government measures to address the issue of non-occupied homes by providing owners incentives to either sell or rent out the property. One strategy suggested by CAVA is an increase in property taxes on unoccupied homes.
Tony King ‘not insane’
Judge formally charges King for Sonia Carabantes murder
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
ACCUSED DOUBLE-MURDER TONY ALEXANDER KING IS NOT INSANE, ACCORDING TO RESULTS OF TESTS AND ANALYSES PERFORMED BY FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGISTS, WHICH HAVE RECENTLY BEEN MADE PUBLIC.
According to the report, King is cognisant and in control of his actions. The only psychological disorder the doctors identified was an antisocial personality. The report suggests that King, which it categorises as being of medium-low intelligence, ‘consciously attempts to negatively distort his own image’ a psychiatric condition in an effort to either confuse or manipulate his questioners.
Last week the British suspect was taken before the Coín judge in charge of the Sonia Carabantes murder case, Gonzalo Alonso, who declared the investigative phase of the case closed and presented the formal charges against King. The charges include the murder of 17-year-old Srta Carabantes, as well as sexual aggression and illegal abduction.
TRIAL TO BE HANDLED BY TRIBUNAL
The inclusion of the sexual aggression charge is significant due to its key role in the judge’s decision that the case be heard by the provincial tribunal court rather than by a jury. Spanish law states that in cases where there are multiple charges and one or more of them is outside the jurisdiction of jury proceedings, the trial must be handled by tribunal. Sexual aggression is one such charge.
King’s lawyer, Javier Saavedra, said his client categorically denies having sexually attacked the victim and indicated he would appeal the decision for the case to be tried by tribunal. The lawyer for Srta Carabantes’ family, José María Garzón, expressed his agreement with the judge’s decision, holding that there is sufficient indication of sexual aggression, “based on the statements of the accused himself” shortly following his arrest for the murder.
WANNINKHOF MURDER CHARGE
A Fuengirola judge previously ordered that King also be tried by tribunal for the other murder he is charged with, the 1999 killing of 19-year-old Rocío Wanninkhof in Mijas.
Helen Mitchell found alive and well
By David Eade
Following last week’s front page appeal in the Costa del Sol News for Helen Mitchell she has been found alive and well in Andalucía. Helen had last spoken to her ailing father in Bristol on October 25 but when she failed to make contact over Christmas, New Year and Easter her family became very concerned and reported her disappearance to the British police.
Helen Mitchell had been living in the mountain village of Monda but lost contact with her family after the woman she had been staying with returned to Germany. She phoned her father on Sunday after she became aware of the Costa del Sol News appeal about her whereabouts. Her brother Ian Mitchell said they wished to keep Helen’s whereabouts secret to protect her privacy.
In a message to Costa del Sol News Mr Mitchell wrote: “Congratulations on an excellent job. Will you please convey our heartfelt gratitude to the editorial staff and all concerned in putting this article on the front page. When compared to the indifference we've encountered from some official circles, your aid and support to total strangers goes a very long way to restoring our faith in human nature.”
'Foreigners' tax' challenged in court
News Staff Reporter
The Andalucía Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought by the PSOE group at Fuengirola Town Hall. The party is seeking a legal ruling on the rise in the IBI property tax that has seen some residents bills rise by 43 per cent.
Spokesperson for PSOE in Fuengirola, Moisés Sanchéz, said this tax was adopted by the Partido Popular on January 12 despite the objections of the socialist group. The party believes the tax rise is an abusive and disproportionate and doubts whether it is legal under the ordinances governing municipalities.
PSOE argues that the tax is not legal because it ignores the principal of equality of all before the law and discriminates against citizens. The tax establishes a subvention of 30 per cent for residents who are on the official Town Hall register but the subvention does not apply to non-registered residents, many of whom are foreigners.
Vélez-Málaga at flood risk
By Dave Jamieson
With March’s serious flooding in Rincón de la Victoria still vivid in the memory, ecologists are warning that another Axarquía town is at serious risk. The group Gena says that a study of water channels through Vélez-Málaga has revealed that sufficient measures are not in place and claims that authorities have ignored the problem. Gena’s president, Rafel Yus, said that the town’s inhabitants were aware of the dangers of the water courses which tended to flood in wet years, including Salinas, Riachuelo and Romero, plus to a less extent San Sebastián, Molineta and Negro. However, he added that the majority of channels which carried away rain water were unknown to the general public as they ran underground through the town, so were not visible. “In this way,” he explained, “Vélez-Málaga lives its daily life on the shoulders of its water channels, as if they did not exist.”
Meanwhile, a concert to raise funds for families in Rincón still suffering from the March floods is to be held on May 28. Rincón’s Social Services report that the 180 families most in need of assistance received urgent help from the Junta de Andalucía, while 371 others have submitted applications for aid. Tickets for the concert, to be held in Rincón’s football stadium, are now on sale at 10 euros and the town hopes to raise 60,000 euros through the event..
Nerja calls for curbs on night violence
Residents and businesses want greater police presence
By Dave Jamieson
URGENT CALLS HAVE BEEN MADE FOR AN INCREASED POLICE PRESENCE IN THE CENTRE OF NERJA IN ORDER TO CURB NIGHT-TIME VIOLENCE.
The area around Plaza Tutti Frutti and Calle Antonio Millón, the centre of the town's late-night bar scene, has caused concerns amongst residents and businesses who say that every weekend gangs start fights and tussles that end in injuries requiring attention at the town's health centre. Bar owners say that many of their patrons, who simply want to enjoy a drink with friends, have begun to feel insecure because of the frequency of the incidents, and claim that there is no permanent presence of either local police or Guardia Civil officers in the area.
Concern has also been expressed about some bars that offer two drinks for the price of one, leading, it is claimed, to excessive alcohol intake amongst young people. The majority of those involved in the fights are reported to be between 12 and 15 years old, and calls have been made to clamp down on sales of alcoholic drinks to those who are underage.
TOWN HALL RESPONSE
Nerja Town Hall has undertaken to provide a security service in the area at busy times, although as yet it has not fulfilled the promise. Bar owners say the presence of uniformed officers would give an increased sense of security to customers and workers. The councillor for Security, Rafael Rivas, confirmed that the Town Hall had asked the local police to investigate and report on night-time violence in the area, and that he would act on their findings.
Wettest spring for 30 years
BY DAVE JAMIESON
WHAT WE ALL SUSPECTED HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED. FEBRUARY, MARCH AND APRIL WERE THE WETTEST MONTHS IN THE PROVINCE OF MÁLAGA IN THE LAST 30 YEARS.
The National Institute of Meteorology issued figures last week which showed that during the three month period, more than 400 litres per square metre fell on the capital, while in March, more rain fell in Málaga than in the previous eight months of March added together. The previous record for the month was set in 1984, when a mere 258 litres per square metre was recorded.
The Institute’s director, Francisco Sánchez, explained that the present hydrological year, which started in September, has been unusually wet, with rainfall totals well above historic averages. In Málaga, where the seven month average is 508 litres per square metre, this year’s total has been 992, an increase of 95 per cent. Municipalities east of the capital have fared better than those to the west, with Torrox showing a 64 per cent increase on the norm, and Nerja just 54 per cent more than usual. Temperatures have been generally more normal, except during the first few days of this month when a large drop was accompanied by very strong winds. The warmest day so far this year was April 26, when a high of 26 degrees was recorded in Málaga.
Recent bad weather has taken its toll on Granada’s farmers and growers. More than 500 hectares of temporary greenhouses have been reduced to a pile of plastic and iron, creating a financial disaster for around a thousand families. A spokesman for their agricultural collective said that strong winds had ruined crops of peppers, beans, peas, melons and water melons, while heavy rain had caused the loss of 10 to 15 per cent of the cherry tomato crop. Emilio Rodríguez called for help and financial assistance for those who had lost one hundred per cent of their work, saying that over the last two years, a series of problems caused by fire, weather, plagues and low prices had caused many farmers to abandon their land.
On top of the unseasonable April weather, a small tornado last week hit land at Camino del Puntal, Motril, causing damage to half a dozen greenhouses at Carchuna.
The Axarquía’s fishing fleet was also badly hit by a storm which hit the region on Sunday May 2, with costs estimated at 390,000 euros. Three boats at Caleta de Vélez suffered severe damage, while a fourth was completely destroyed.
Teenager falls into well at ‘haunted’ house
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
FIREFIGHTERS LAST WEEK RESCUED A TEENAGE BOY FROM THE BOTTOM OF A 15-METRE WELL ON THE PROPERTY OF THE CORTIJO JURADO, THE OLD ABANDONED MANSION IN CAMPANILLAS VISIBLE FROM THE HIGHWAY THAT LEADS FROM MÁLAGA TO THE GUADALHORCE VALLEY.
The boy, who suffered an injury to his arm and a back injury that left him with no feeling in his legs and possibly paraplegic, was taken to Hospital Carlos Haya.
‘HOUNTED’ HOUSE ATTRACTION
The house at Cortijo Jurado, which is soon to be converted into part of a luxury hotel complex, has long been rumoured to be haunted. Indeed, it is believed that the boy who fell down the well was probably one of the hundreds of curious would-be ghostbusters or thrill-seekers who have been flocking to the site in the weeks since its appearance on a Spanish late-night television programme.
The development company that owns Cortijo Jurado, Mirador, says it has spent 600 euros on padlocks alone, as surreptitious visitors to the ‘haunted’ house break the locks to get in and poke around. The company also reports that some visitors have been taking away more than just ghost stories; doors, ceramic pieces and even some window frames have recently disappeared from the site.
A LONG HISTORY
Cortijo Jurado was originally owned by the affluent Heredia family. Legends about it being haunted began to circulate in the 19th century and became so popularised that old-timers remember local children being warned, “Behave yourself, or we’ll take you to the Cortijo.” Some investigators of the paranormal have written articles about the site, referencing such things as torture and human sacrifice taking place inside the house.
Málaga police release starving horses
NEWS Staff Reporter
Earlier this week officers from the environmental patrol of the Málaga local police saved a group of horses that were apparently abandoned by their owner and were starving to death in a stable in the Teatinos neighbourhood of the city. The police were alerted to the situation on Monday by the equine association Aguimor. Other local horse owners indicated that two of the abandoned horses had already died.
According to police reports, the owner of the horses had temporarily gone to Sevilla for work, without making arrangements for anyone to take care of the animals in his absence. The man is expected to face a fine. When police freed the horses on Tuesday, they took three of them to the equine-protection society SEPE's facilities near the Málaga airport. A SEPE representative told Costa del Sol News that the animals - which she described as ponies due to their small size - were in "an awful condition, and in addition appear to have been ill treated as they are scared of people." She said the ponies, once recovered to a basic level of health, will probably be turned out in SEPE's pasture to live out their days.
Is quarry work still going on?
Residents demand immediate closure of Mijas quarry
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATIONS AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS HAVE SUBMITTED A REQUEST TO THE COURTS FOR THE ISSUANCE OF AN IMMEDIATE CLOSURE ORDER FOR THE EL PUERTO AND LOS ARENALES QUARRIES IN MIJAS.
Some of the groups, which include Micoba, Tamisa and Ecologistas en Accíón, have filed previous legal requests for the closure of the sites.
Both quarries are already officially closed but, especially at El Puerto, neighbours and environmentalists are convinced that the supposed restoration work being performed is little more than a thin veil for continued extraction work.
The Town Hall, on the other hand, has consistently defended the restoration efforts, saying its technicians regularly visit the sites to measure progress and ensure the work is being carried out to plan. It does admit, however, that some materials being removed as part of the restoration work are being sold, meaning that, in one form or another, some extraction is continuing to occur. Nonetheless, both the Town Hall and the company carrying out the work, Dolomitas Española, say the restoration work is on track to be completed ahead of its scheduled 2008 deadline.
The Town Hall explains that, due to the nearly vertical nature of the quarry face, it has been necessary to cut into new parts of the mountainside in order to create the terraces required as part of the restoration. Whatever the case, the resident and environmental groups are fed up with the continued noise, dust and heavy-lorry traffic emitting from the site, and remain suspicious of the type of work being performed. They hope their pleas to the court will bring a faster conclusion to the work. Meanwhile, the Town Hall says it is taking measures to reduce dust and noise at the site.
Three die in snow storm on Granada Sierras
BY DAVE JAMIESON
A blizzard on the Sierra Nevada has taken the lives of three walkers. A fourth member of the group of Dutch holidaymakers remains in a coma brought on by hypothermia, while six others suffered less serious injuries in the incident last Wednesday. The dead, two women, aged 69 and 55, and a 52 year old man, were members of a group which apparently ignored advice and warnings of bad weather when they took to the slopes.
The group of 12 were travelling with the company Intertrek on a two day excursion in the Alpujarras which included an ascent of the Mulhacén, the highest peak on the Iberian peninsula. Two of the party returned early to their base in Bubión because of the bad weather, leaving the remaining ten to continue. The two women who made their way home early alleged a “lack of responsibility” on the part of the guide. They said that they had been warned of heavy snowstorms by the local keeper at a shelter, but their Dutch guide, Sonja Van Zanten, decided to continue. The ten then accompanied her further up the mountain where, after an hour’s walking, they were surprised by a blizzard and temperatures below zero, at which time two of the victims lost consciousness and died.
Survivors were later brought to safety by the Guardia Civil’s mountain rescue service. A formal investigation opened in Orgiva where the guide has given testimony and has been released without bail. She has, however, been charged with negligent manslaughter. Twenty people have died already during 2004 on the mountain.