News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Week August 5th to August 11th 2004.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TRAGEDY
Brit kills partner and stabs himself
BY DAVID EADE
A 34-YEAR-OLD BRITISH WOMAN, JULIE BELVOIR, HAS BEEN FOUND DEAD AT HER LA LÍNEA HOME AT PASAJE VISTA ALEGRE. HER COMPANION, 48-YEAR-OLD BRITON, GRAHAM SMITH, WAS ALSO FOUND IN THE HOUSE THEY SHARED TOGETHER IN A SERIOUS CONDITION, AFTER HAVING TRIED TO COMMIT SUICIDE.
Police reports are working on the theory that the man first killed the woman and then attempted suicide. Work friends of the victim alerted the police, as they could get no reply either to their telephone calls or when they called at the house.
Graham Smith was rushed to the La Línea SAS hospital where the medical director, José Perea, said he had self-inflicted knife wounds and was having difficulty breathing. Later Smith was given a CAT scan then rushed to the neurological unit at the Puerta del Mar Hospital in Cádiz. He died hours later from a brain haemorrhage.
The couple had previously lived in San Martín de Tesorillo before moving to the rented house in La Línea three years ago. Both worked in Gibraltar.
Various neighbours have stated that nothing out of the ordinary occurred that afternoon to cause alarm. Others came forward to say that the couple frequently argued and alleged that the victim had been maltreated by her partner. The couple had not gone to work for three days and the telephone had been constantly ringing but had remained unanswered.
The courts have now ordered the investigations be carried out in secrecy. The entrance to the home has been sealed off by police. Many neighbours gathered to see Julie Belvoir’s body being removed and whilst they said she was not well known, she was described as being very correct in her behaviour.
FINAL AGREEMENT ON MÁLAGA RAIL LINK
MÁLAGA’S SECOND RUNWAY BROUGHT FORWARD SEVEN YEARS
BY DAVE JAMIESON
MÁLAGA AIRPORT’S SECOND RUNWAY HAS BEEN PROMISED FOR 2010, SEVEN YEARS EARLIER THAN EXPECTED.
The project will be split into two phases, the first including the construction of a new passenger terminal, more car parking, expanded space for aircraft on the tarmac, and new access roads, with the second seeing the opening of the new runway.
Speaking in the city last week, the Minister for Development, Magdalena Álvarez, promised that Phase 1 would be completed by 2008, and that Phase 2 would follow within two years. The total investment in the project is estimated at 730 million euros, with more than 70 per cent earmarked for Phase 1, although the outcome of studies into the environmental impact of the expansion and the compulsory purchase of land may inflate the figures.
The Minister made it clear that she considered it important to complete the project in the shortest possible time, while airport operator AENA confirmed that work on the new 260 million euro passenger terminal will begin in February with a planned opening date of March 2008. The new building will cover 251,000 square metres, have 86 check in desks and 20 new departure dates, and double the airport’s capacity to handle passengers, 11.6 million of whom passed through last year. With the renovation of the old T1 terminal due to be completed in June 2006, the airport will eventually have a total of 171 check in desks and 48 departure gates, and will be able to process 9,000 passengers an hour, the equivalent of 20 million a year, instead of the present 4,500.
SEPTEMBER START FOR CAR PARK
Work begins in September on five new floors of car parking which will provide 1,800 places, and the Minister confirmed that the airport would be integrated with all other transportation provisions, in which she included the high-speed AVE rail link. The new south access road will link to the existing motorway, while the new north access road will link to Málaga’s planned second ring road. This will involve rerouting the local railway line underground, but train passengers will then be able to access the air terminal directly.
The key development, of course, will be the opening of a new runway in late 2009 or early 2010 which will allow the present number of flight operations to be increased from 36 per hour up to 75. Two new fast exits will be added to the existing two on the present runway and the area in which aircraft wait before take-off will be improved, and the new runway will be oriented to minimise acoustic pollution for local residents.
Have you seen this man?
National Crime Squad launches Costa appeal
BY TOM CAIN
THE NATIONAL CRIME SQUAD IN THE UK HAS LAUNCHED AN APPEAL FOR INFORMATION ON THE WHEREABOUTS OF 48-YEAR-OLD STEVEN WILLIAM THOMPSON WHO IS BELIEVED TO BE HIDING OUT ON THE COSTAS.
Thompson was found guilty, in his absence, of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs by a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court in January. His arrest in May 2002 followed the seizure of 400 kilos of cannabis resin – worth 1.25 million pounds – in December 2000.
He had been caught on surveillance footage shortly before this seizure, in the car park of a café near Safeway supermarket off the A4020 in Uxbridge, West London. It was there that he loaded a van with 23 cardboard boxes packed with cannabis.
The drugs had been destined for nationwide distribution.
Thompson is described as white with a strong London accent. He has had links in the past with the furniture and clothing businesses and is also a horse racing enthusiast.
Anyone who thinks they have seen Thompson or who knows of his whereabouts is asked to contact the National Crime Squad in the UK on 0044 (0)1924 244 739.
Worst summer fire since 1991
Two people killed by flames
BY DAVID EADE
A SUMMER FIRE THAT RAGED THROUGH SEVILLA AND HUELVA DESTROYING 27,000 HECTARES HAS FINALLY BEEN BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL.
According to the regional government it is the worst fire recorded in Andalucía since 1991.
Five days after the inferno started fire-fighting planes and helicopters were still bombarding the zone to suffocate the remaining hotspots to prevent any further flare-ups.
Permanently stationed in the fire area are 20 technicians from the regional government’s environment agency, 182 fire fighting specialists, 12 fire engines, three aircraft, five helicopters and heavy machinery.
Of the 27,000 hectares erased by the flames in the two provinces, 60 per cent were eucalyptus plantations of which 11 per cent was in production and 49 per cent abandoned. Pine trees accounted for a further 15 per cent of the fire zone whilst the remainder was scrubland and cork oaks.
BURNT TO DEATH
Two people were killed in the blaze one being a Sevilla man who was burnt to death in his car. A pilot was injured when his helicopter crashed in to the Berrocal reservoir whilst taking on water. More than 1,100 people were evacuated from their homes in over a dozen villages in Sevilla and Huelva.
The, at one time, unstoppable inferno started in the Minas de Riotinto and affected 0.55 per cent of the forest mass of Andalucía, 2.6 per cent of the surface area of Sevilla and 1.2 per cent of Huelva.
The major blaze has practically ruined the rural economy for many families. Worst affected are those employed in the production of cork especially in Berrocal were 80 per cent of the land of the municipality has been destroyed. The regional government has given an immediate 700,000 euros to the region.
SUSPICIOUS YOUTH ARRESTED
The Guardia Civil have detained a youth from Riotinto who has a previous history of starting fires in containers. He is described as a habitual delinquent who is being undergoing detoxification treatment with methadone. He is suspected of causing the fire and has been placed in protective custody by the special environmental prosecutor for his own safety whilst his case is examined.
Taxi conflicts re-emerge at Málaga Airport
By Dave Jamieson
Thousands of tourists arriving at Málaga Airport last Friday found themselves in the middle of another industrial dispute involving taxi drivers. For two hours, 160 drivers stopped work in protest at actions which, they alleged, local police officers had taken in permitting non-authorised taxis to enter the arrivals area, a situation which they claim is repeated regularly. Passengers were forced to take the shuttle bus service into the centre of the city, or to carry their luggage a kilometre to the railway station, after drivers refused to transport them.
The protesters caused chaos around the airport by blocking the access road to the arrivals terminal and police had to defuse confrontations between the two sides. The action only ended after all parties agreed to a meeting, due to have taken place yesterday, which would attempt to address the problems of the taxi rank at the airport, which, together with the rank at the city centre railway station, has become a point of major industrial conflict in Málaga. The drivers, however, threatened further action if unauthorised vehicles were permitted into the airport before the meeting took place.
A spokesman for the taxi operators, José Guerrero, put the blame for the chaos firmly on the local police who, he alleged, were responsible for the situation because they had controlled neither access nor parking in restricted zones, ‘so prejudicing both drivers and passengers’. The actions of the drivers came as the airport was preparing for its busiest weekend of the year with over 2,100 flights arriving and leaving.
Motorway to La Herradura open in 18 months
BY DAVE JAMIESON
THE NEXT STRETCH OF THE COASTAL MOTORWAY WILL REACH LA HERRADURA IN 18 MONTHS. DOMINGO QUESADA OF EASTERN ANDALUCÍA’S ROAD DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME VISITED THE CONSTRUCTION LAST WEEK AND CONFIRMED THAT THE A-7 AUTOVÍA EASTWARDS FROM MARO IS MAKING GOOD PROGRESS AND IS SCHEDULED FOR FORMAL OPENING IN FEBRUARY, 2006.
The 9.4 kilometres covers a very difficult and rocky terrain and the Ministry of Development says the cost of 102.95 million euros is double the average for Spain and will remain the most expensive in the country’s history, until the next stretch, from La Herradura to Taramay, is constructed.
Forty per cent of the dual-carriageway to La Herradura consists of viaducts or tunnels, including a bridge of 380 metres long rising 100 metres above the River Miel and a tunnel of 1.4 kilometres at Marchante.
Ecological concerns have been to the fore during construction as the first six kilometres passes along the border of two protected areas, the natural parks of Maro – Cerro Gordo and the Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Sierras. Hollows have been built into the concrete supports which will carry the road high above the countryside to provide homes for colonies of bats, while porcelain dishes have been provided to form an “ecological city” where peregrine falcons can nest and rear their young.
200 workers are operating in shifts 24 hours a day to complete the road on schedule, while construction records are being broken or set all the time. The viaduct over the River Miel is composed of 28 metre long spans, manufactured in Utrera and transported to Nerja overnight to avoid traffic disruption, then hoisted into place with cranes capable of lifting 2,200 tons. The work, which began in 2002, is now estimated to be 50 per cent complete.
WORK STARTS FROM LA HERRADURA TO ADRA
Beyond La Herradura, work has started on three further stretches - 9.5 kilometres to Taramay, 12 kilometres to Motril and the final 46 kilometres to Adra - which will link with the existing motorway to complete the autovía along the entire length of Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Motril has urged the Government to keep its promise and ensure that the motorway being built south from Granada reaches his town by 2007. Carlos Rojas criticised the Development Minister, Magdalena Álvarez, for not visiting the construction during a recent tour of infrastructure developments around the country, claiming that the Granada coast was largely “forgotten” for years. When completed, the Granada to Motril motorway will link with the coastal motorway to form a huge, inverted letter T on the Spanish roadways map.
Anger over possible Estepona car park
Councillor claims car park rumours are a hoax
News Staff Reporter
Over 100 people living near the Plaza del Ajedrez in Estepona gathered on Friday night to voice their opposition to plans for an underground car park beneath the zone.
The locals were responding to rumours that in a few weeks time work would start on the project. Residents groups have started a petition to oppose the project and are very angry because they say if rumours prove to be true they have not been consulted about the development.
The residents are concerned too that the construction work would destroy the popular Plaza that serves as a park for the young and the old of the neighbourhood. In addition they fear that the excavation works would undermine the foundations of the buildings that border the square.
For his part the councillor for infrastructure and public works, Antonio Murcia, has assured local people that no study has been made on such a project for the zone. He said the rumours were a hoax in bad taste.
"Kidnap victim" arrested in bizarre case
BY DAVE JAMIESON
IN A CASE WHICH TURNED THROUGH 180 DEGREES DURING ITS INVESTIGATION, POLICE IN MÁLAGA HAVE ARRESTED A YOUNG WOMAN WHO CLAIMED TO HAVE BEEN KIDNAPPED.
Marianela Rosario B.Z, a 27 year old from Ecuador was found, bound at the hands and feet and showing evident signs of violence, on waste ground at Rincón de la Victoria early last Thursday morning and was immediately taken for medical attention. She is reported to have told police that she had been kidnapped by three people who forced her into their vehicle and held her for three days. Police said that she told them she had been blindfolded throughout her ordeal so could not give any details of the house where she was held or describe her abductors.
She had been reported missing by her mother, with whom she lives in Málaga, following a call to her home by a woman with a South American accent demanding 6,000 euros for her release. A threat was issued against Marianela’s life if the ransom was not paid. A man later called her mother and an arrangement was made to meet him. When Andreá Gerardo, a 21 year old Colombian, approached the rendezvous point, he was arrested by National Police officers who had staked out the area, and taken in for questioning.
The local police station in Rincón later received a call saying that a woman’s shouts for help had been heard in the Las Zorreras area of the Cotomar urbanisation, and a unit was quickly despatched to the scene. The woman was taken to Carlos Haya Hospital where she was treated for her cuts.
However, police investigations quickly established that the Colombian was the boyfriend of the alleged kidnap victim, and officers began to review the evidence. They discovered that Marianela arrived in Spain in 1998, married a Spanish citizen and had a son by him, but the couple separated after a short time. Three years later, she was involved in a traffic accident in Ibiza for which she was awarded 6,000 euros compensation, then moved to Málaga with her son and her mother. A year ago, she was working as a waitress and had a new boyfriend with whom she entered an economic arrangement which, she is said not to have realised, meant she would have to share the compensation payout.
When she met Andréa Gerardo and finished her earlier relationship, the two are alleged to have hatched a plot to make some money to replace the share of her former partner’s share of her compensation. It was Gerardo who telephoned Marianela’s mother to arrange the ransom drop off, but a niece happened to answer the call and recognised his voice. She told the police who arrested him, and the truth began to spill out. Officers searched his home, found the 6,000 euros compensation money, and Marianela confessed. Case closed.
Nerja campo blaze
News Staff Reporter
Thirty hectares of countryside around Nerja were devasted by a fire which raged in the early hours of Monday morning. The alarm was raised just before 2.00 in an area of parkland known as Rio de la Miel, and was tackled by fire-fighters and technicians from the Environment Department, Civil Protection, Guardia Civil and local police forces, assisted a number of helicopters and aeroplanes, two of which were capable of carrying large volumes of water. The fire, which destroyed 25 acres of trees, was brought under control at 9.30 leaving investigators to establish its cause.
Julio Iglesias to open Málaga feria
BY DAVE JAMIESON
ONE OF MÁLAGA’S BEST-KEPT SECRETS WAS LET OUT LAST WEEK WHEN IT WAS CONFIRMED THAT MÁLAGA’S ANNUAL FAIR, WHICH BEGINS A WEEK TOMORROW, WILL BE FORMALLY OPENED BY THE INTERNATIONAL SINGING STAR, JULIO IGLESIAS.
Mayor Francisco de la Torre had managed to persuade Sr Iglesias to attend, but managed to keep the information hidden to all but a few, and even most of his councillors had no idea who the promised mystery celebrity would be.
One of the requirements of the person chosen to deliver the traditional prégon, or address, which launches the festivities is that he or she should be born in Málaga or have the city in their heart. Culture Councillor Diego Maldonado, confirming his attendance, said that the singer had known Málaga well for many years. So, at 23.45 a week tomorrow, thousands will gather outside the Town Hall, from where Julio Iglesias will deliver his speech praising the city and calling for nine days of non-stop fun, in Málaga’s annual tribute to its patron saint, Victoria, after whom he named one of his twin daughters. Then, at midnight, a spectacular firework display will light the night sky, and the annual event will have begun.
NOISE LEVELS TO BE MONITORED
Meanwhile, noise levels at this year’s daytime fair in Málaga are to be closely monitored by city centre residents. The president of their association, María Dolores Acosta, made it clear last week that they would not tolerate anything which exceeded 65 decibels, the top limit laid down in the Junta de Andalucía’s regulations to prevent acoustic contamination. She said that, although Málaga Town Hall had not yet formally adopted the noise levels in a local by-law, the maximum, which drops to 55 decibels at night, should be observed to avoid prejudicing the health of local people. She added that the World Health Organisation states that above 65 decibels, verbal communication becomes difficult, while levels exceeding 75 decibels can cause a loss of hearing.
Sra Acosta claimed that some of the streets in which the daytime fair is located are “acoustically saturated” and called on the authorities to impose severe sanctions on those who exceed the permitted limits. For the first time, the city’s local police officers will be equipped with sound level meters for the control of noise during the fair.
Arroyo’s three towers brought down to earth
By David Eade
Enrique Bolín, the Mayor of Benalmádena, has finally bowed to pressure from political groups and residents by abandoning his plans to build three tower blocks in Arroyo de la Miel.
At a recent council meeting called to amend the town planning ordinance in order to allow the major construction project to proceed Sr Bolín instead announced: “We have decided not to construct the building on the site of the Casa de la Cultura.”
The decision to drop the three tower project lessened the tension that had built up in the town hall meeting room where over 100 local residents has answered the call from PSOE and the IU to make their voices heard at the council meeting.
However the ‘three towers project’ could cause lasting problems for Enrique Bolín. The Partido Popular are in ruling partnership with his GIB party and would have voted against the scheme and it is understood that members of his own party opposed the project.
It was on May 21 that Sr Bolín presented his project to remodel the town centre of Arroyo de la Miel. The first tower block was to be built on the parking zone of Tivoli World, the second on land near the railway station whilst the third would have been on the Casa de la Cultura site.
Nine storey building ban in Estepona
The last meeting of Estepona town council before the summer break banned the construction of any buildings in front of the Villas del Mediterráneo urbanization. Specifically it has blocked the building of a nine-storey high edifice on a plot of land known as ‘Arroyo del Piojo’.
The Mayor, Antonio Barrientos, announced that he intended to secure the total suppression of any building on this parcel of land. He added that he wanted to preserve the green public zone and also the connection road between the Villas del Mediterráneo and the Avenida de Las Mesas.