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Week October 7th to October 13th 2004.
GREEN LIGHT FOR BRITISH MOTORISTS
British Foreign Office has no record of fines for Brit tourists
BY DAVID EADE
THE BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE HAS CONTACTED COSTA DEL SOL NEWS CONCERNING THE ALLEGATIONS THAT BRITISH TOURISTS IN SPAIN ARE BEING FINED BY TRAFFIC POLICE FOR CARRYING THE NEW BRITISH CREDIT CARD STYLE LICENCE.
A spokesman told CDSN that the Foreign Office had no record of any complaints from British tourists caught in this way. He added that he had also checked with the British Embassy in Madrid and officials there denied any knowledge of complaints regarding on-the-spot fines made either to them directly or via the Consulates.
The spokesman suggested that the reports circulating on the Costa del Sol regarding on-the-spot fines or confiscation of licences were probably due to cases in which British residents were fined for pretending to be tourists.
However the Foreign Office spokesman did warn that the onus lay with the British tourist to prove that he or she wasn't a resident. In that regard it would be wise for a tourist driving his or her own car in Spain to have their travel documents with them at all times.
EXPERTS EXPLAIN THE ISSUE
After our appeal last week in which Costa del Sol News asked for readers reports, several motoring experts have contacted CDSN, among them Mr Brian Deller, author of Motoring in Spain and Mr A Watt who explained to CDSN: "More information on the type of British driving licence that is acceptable in Spain for tourists is needed to clarify the situation. As far as the UK is concerned there are four types of driving licences still in use.
"The old driving licences, namely the green paper one and the pink paper one, would require an International Driving Permit issued by the AA or RAC whereas both the current licence and the new credit card type are of the EU type and therefore valid in Spain.
"All British vehicles being used on Spanish roads must comply with the registration regulations of the UK, i.e. they must have a vehicle excise licence, insurance minimum 3rd party, fire and theft plus the Ministry of Transport Vehicle Document (M.O.T.). Of course if the vehicle is imported into Spain then their regulations apply."
Straits drug smuggling funded terror attacks
BY DAVID EADE
ANTONIO MARÍA COSTA, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED NATIONS OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME (UNODC), HAS ANNOUNCED THAT DRUG TRAFFICKING ACROSS THE STRAITS OF GIBRALTAR FUNDED THREE RECENT TERRORIST ATTACKS.
It is estimated that the trafficking of drugs from Morocco, mostly hashish, worth an estimated $12.5 billion per annum, was a major source of funding for the 2002 aborted attack on a US Navy vessel in Gibraltar; the May 2003 bombings in Casablanca and the March 11, 2004 attack on rail passengers in Madrid.
Addressing an international conference in Rome on the links between drug trafficking, organised crime and international terrorism, Sr Costa stated: "Drug trafficking has always meant untold suffering and death for addicts. Today, drug trafficking is also the source of a different and very urgent problem: the financing of terrorism. The revenue generated by organized crime offers terrorist groups a steady flow of funding, making the effort to eliminate drug trafficking and to reduce drug abuse critical strategies in the global fight against terrorism."
'ORGANIZED CRIME-TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS'
Sr Costa warned his audience that: "It has become more and more difficult to distinguish clearly between terrorist groups and organized crime units, since their tactics increasingly overlap. The world is seeing the birth of a new hybrid of 'organized crime - terrorist organizations', and it is imperative to sever the connection between crime, drugs, and terrorism now. Global threats require global responses, based on a collective reaffirmation of the rule of law."
Mayhem in Arroyo thieves chase
NEWS Staff Reporter
The toll after a high-speed chase by two thieves through Arroyo de la Miel in the early hours of Sunday morning was seven cars badly damaged and three local police officers injured after attempts to run them down. Those statistics might have you believing they had made off with the Crown Jewels but their actual haul was 21 packets of cigarettes, five mobile phones plus several packets of money.
The alarm was raised at four in the morning when the local police were alerted that there had been a robbery at a commercial premises in the Pasaje de San Antonio in the centre of Arroyo de la Miel. The business owner described the robbers to the officers and an immediate search of the area was put in to effect and vehicles stopped and checked.
The first officers to intercept the pair located them in the Avenida Blas Infante. This led to a frenetic and dangerous chase through the town in which seven cars were badly damaged, buildings crashed in to plus five attempts to run down police officers. When the two thieves, a man and a woman, were finally detained they still offered resistance. Three police officers had to be treated for minor cuts and injuries.
No road relief yet for Málaga
By David Eade
The new government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has announced its first budget since coming to office. Although the investment in Málaga province in 2005 will total 744 million euros the bad news is that, contrary to initial more favourable proposals announced by Costa del Sol News last week, there are now no immediate plans to proceed with the second ring road around Málaga City.
The existing ring road around the provincial capital is already at breaking point. The government has allocated one million euros to carry out studies on a future second ring road but the cost of the actual project would exceed more than 200 million euros.
The decision to delay future work on the second ring road has been met with dismay in Málaga City. The Ministry of Public Works has offered no explanation for not proceeding with the urgently needed road. The opposition PP deputies Celia Villalobos, a former Mayor of Málaga, and Manuel Atencia, bitterly attacked Sr Rodriguez Zapatero's government and especially the minister responsible, Magdalena Álvarez.
Manuel Atencia stated: "A work that the previous government was completely ready to put out to tender has now been delayed for two and a half years by this decision that is inexplicable and inadmissible."
A subsequent meeting of Málaga City Council passed a motion calling on the government to urgently give its approval for the second ring road. In addition the councillors called for the immediate approval for the Málaga to Las Pedrizas motorway, which like the ring road has only been allocated funds for a study.
However there is good news for another long-awaited road project with confirmation that 2.6 million euros is allocated next year for the San Pedro underpass.
Málaga Airport was a big winner in the annual allocation of State funds with 260 million euros set aside for a new terminal. The AVE high-speed train link between Córdoba and Málaga will get the major share of the 358 million euros assigned to the rail network.
Heightened security in Sotogrande
By David Eade
AFTER THE RECENT WAVE OF ROBBERIES IN THE LUXURY URBANIZATION OF SOTOGRANDE THE SAN ROQUE COUNCILLOR FOR CIVILIAN SECURITY, MIGUEL NÚÑEZ, HAS CONFIRMED THAT SECURITY HAS BEEN HEIGHTENED IN THE ZONE.
Costa del Sol News has recently reported on an international gang of criminals have been been targeting Sotogrande. The Guardia Civil are involved in an action to break up the gang and Sr Núñez has recently reported that ten people had been arrested in connection with the recent robberies.
The councillor recently held a meeting with the president of Sotogrande property owners, Manuel Reigada and the director of the port, Ramiro Fernández. Also in attendance were senior representatives of the Guardia Civil and the security company 'Securitas'. The purpose of the get together was to evaluate accusations over the lack of security voiced by Sotogrande residents.
It was revealed that security in Sotogrande had been heightened with the local police working closely with the Guardia Civil and the private security company to provide peace of mind for the residents of the zone. The group will meet again soon to analyse more closely the security situation and the performance of each group.
EASTERN COAST ALSO HIT
The national police have reinforced their presence in the eastern residential zone of Málaga city after an outbreak of robberies. Again an international gang is believed to be behind the crime wave although local villains are also involved.
The thieves who operate at night have targeted luxury detached properties in Cerrado de Calderón, El Candado, El Limonar, Pinares de San Antón and Miraflores de El Palo. Uniformed and plain clothes officers have been allocated to these urbanizations and at the time of going to press no new robberies had been reported for a nine-day period.
Officers believe that the thieves might be using a spray to make the dwellers in the properties sleep
Motril Mayor ousted by opposition
By Oliver McIntyre
Socialist PSOE councillor Pedro Álvarez took over as Mayor of Motril on Monday following the successful vote by his party members, along with councillors from other opposition parties at the Town Hall, to oust now ex-Mayor Carlos Rojas, whose Partido Popular was ruling in coalition with the Partido Andalucista and one independent councillor. The overthrow of the sitting Mayor was achieved during a heated hour-and-half-long Town Council meeting, marked by numerous interruptions and outbursts by the crowd in attendance. The session was aired live on local television.
The councillor who cast the decisive vote to approve the ouster motion, Vicente Morales (one of two councillors for the GRITO-PDDC party in the Town Hall) received both the loudest boos and the greatest applause at the contentious Town Council meeting, which he attended with bodyguard protection after receiving threats prior to the meeting.
Youths hospitalised after beating by security guards
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
FOUR YOUNG MEN WERE HOSPITALISED FOR INJURIES RECEIVED AT THE HANDS OF SECURITY GUARDS AT MÁLAGA'S POPULAR NIGHTLIFE AND ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE PLAZA MAYOR IN AN ALTERCATION EARLY SUNDAY MORNING.
Among other injuries, one suffered a blood clot on the brain, another had his jaw broken, and one received a broken nose and a black eye that he says doctors told him could be serious enough to permanently affect his vision. Three other youths, two of them female, also suffered minor injuries but did not require hospitalisation.
The young men say that the incident occurred at around 5.45 Sunday morning when they were leaving a disco at Plaza Mayor where they had been celebrating a friend's birthday. Upon leaving the disco, some of the fringe group began to climb on and then drag away one of the centre's decorative cow statues. When guards arrived, say the young men, they left to head to their cars, but about a dozen guards suddenly showed up and began beating them with truncheons.
Plaza Mayor representatives offered a very different version of events, indicating that the extreme force used by the guards was the result of their feeling threatened when surrounded by the group of youths, who had been attempting to drag the cow statue onto the nearby Cercanías train tracks. They say it was in fact the young men who started the fight with the guards, several of whom also suffered injuries in their attempt to "protect the entertainment centre's property."
The lawyer for the young men plans to file a lawsuit on their behalf against the Black Star security company that provides security services to Plaza Mayor, and says he will study whether or not the centre itself has any responsibility or accountability for the incident.
Málaga Bishop denounces gay marriages
By Oliver McIntyre
The Bishop of Málaga and Melilla, Antonio Dorado Soto, spoke out over the weekend against the legalisation of gay and lesbian marriages and the adoption of children by homosexual couples. The remarks were made during the Bishop's visit to the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa, and came in reaction to draft legislation approved by Spain's council of ministers, which, once passed into law by parliament, will make Spain the third country in the world to legalise such unions.
Bishop Dorado Soto called homosexual marriages an 'anomaly' and stated that they 'contradict human rights' and 'are not the most favourable for educating children'. While insisting that the Church 'respects homosexuals', said that 'above all, the rights of children should be respected'.
The reform of the Civil Code that will allow and recognise gay marriages is expected to be passed by parliament and to take effect in 'the first months of 2005', according to Justice Minister Juan Fernando López Aguilar. The legalisation of such unions was one of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's campaign promises running up to the elections in March of this year. The only other two countries with similar laws giving homosexuals the right to marry are Holland and Belgium.
47 years for armed bank robbers
By Oliver McIntyre
The prosecutor's office is seeking a total of 47 years imprisonment for two Italian men accused of an armed bank robbery in Rincón de la Victoria and, in the case of one of the men, three additional bank robberies.
The first robbery, at a Unicaja branch in Rincón de la Victoria, took place on June 13, 2001, just as the bank was opening for business at 8.00. The two unmasked men, armed with a single pistol, entered the bank and held the employees at gunpoint, insisting that they open the vault. Because of the time-delay system on the vault, they had to wait in bank for some 15 minutes, during which time an employee was able to hit the emergency button to call for Guardia Civil assistance. When two Guardia officers arrived, the robbers quickly got them at gunpoint, forced them to give up their service revolvers and locked them in the bank's file room. By the time the officers got out, the thieves had fled with 24,286 euros and foreign currency valued at 15,797 euros.
Both of the defendants, Alfio C. and Alessandro S., are charged with the Rincón robbery. Alfio C. faces additional charges for three subsequent armed robberies at banks in Málaga and San Pedro Alcántara, in which he and another unnamed suspect allegedly made off with a total of 230,605 euros. The prosecutor is seeking 31 years for Alfio C. and 16 years for Alessandro S.
Obesity addressed at Granada conference
Less physical exercise and a higher intake of sugars and fats to blame
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
DRINKING JUST ONE SUGAR-SWEETENED SOFT DRINK A DAY ON TOP OF A NORMAL DIET COULD RESULT IN A WEIGHT GAIN OF 7.5 KILOS PER YEAR IN WOMEN.
That was the attention-grabbing example used by a group of experts who addressed obesity issues last week in Granada at the 27th World Conference on Internal Medicine. They warned that the growing rate of obesity in children and adolescents is due largely to an increase in the consumption of foods high in sugar and fats, a decrease in physical activity and greater intake of sweetened drinks.
Among other problems, excessive weight leads to higher risk for type 2 diabetes and reduces the life expectancy of children and adolescents by two and five years, respectively. Conversely, the so-called Mediterranean diet, along with moderate physical exercise and abstinence from smoking and drinking, can increase life expectancy by as much as 10 years or more, say the experts. They also note that women who are poorly nourished during pregnancy can give birth to children with a higher predisposition to obesity.
SPAIN'S WEIGHTY PROBLEM
In Spain, more than half the population is overweight and 17 per cent suffers obesity, according to the experts, who indicate that Andalucía, the Canary Islands and Galicia are the regions with the greatest weight problems. Worldwide there are some 22 million children under the age of five who are overweight or obese. The experts say the best tools to fight obesity and the resulting health problems it poses are a balanced diet, moderate exercise like 30 minutes of walking a day, and low intake of fat, carbohydrates and alcohol.
Banderas helps nuns restore Antequera convent
The Málaga-born actor donated 12,000 euros
By Oliver McIntyre
LIKE ZORRO RIDING TO THE RESCUE, ANTONIO BANDERAS CAME THROUGH FOR A GROUP OF NUNS AT AN ANTEQUERA CONVENT THAT NEEDED FUNDING FOR URGENT REPAIRS.
The nuns of the Las Descalzas convent made a public call for donations and support last February after moisture damage caused the closure of the convent's church, which also serves as the only entrance to the convent. Among the many donations to the cause was one particularly large one from the Málaga-born actor. According to the nuns, their plea to Banderas and the Antequera-based Hojiblanca olive oil company, of which he is part owner, resulted in a 12,000-euro check toward the cost of the necessary repair work.
The moisture damage at the convent church began as the result of nearby construction work. The seepage caused structural damage to the 18th-century building, requiring the removal of floor tiles, the lowering of the sub-floor and the installation of a new drainage system. In addition, as the Town Hall began to take on the initial repairs, one of the side chapels partially collapsed, setting back the project and upping the cost.
CONVENT MUSEUM TO BENEFIT
In all, the Town Hall, the Junta de Andalucía and Unicaja bank provided 130,000 euros to help fund the repair work. The rest came from donations - not just the 12,000-euro lump sum from Banderas, but also 18,000 euros from small donors. With the large show of support, the nuns now plan to enlarge the convent museum to include a special Christmas-related room that will include a permanent nativity scene featuring 17th-century sculptures.
Fuengirola's markets close till February
By David Eade
Fuengirola's councillor for Commerce, José Ramón Arriarán, has stated that it is impossible to find an alternative site for the traditional Tuesday and Saturday markets that are currently held at the feria ground.
The ground will close after this year's feria on October 18, after which the entire site will be refurbished and remodelled. The councillor indicated that the markets could reopen in the second half of February if the weather does not hold up the improvements. It had previously been suggested that the market could reopen just after Christmas but Arriarán has now gone back on that decision. He pointed out that whilst the works would cause a nuisance it would serve to create a better space for all.
The traders themselves have indicated they are in favour of the closure as long as the contractors keep to the four-month building schedule. They have sent a letter to the Town Hall with 10 proposals, including one that the contractor should take out civil liability insurance that would pay them compensation if the works were delayed.
An earlier suggestion that the market could be moved on a temporary basis to the Paseo Marítimo or the Parque Doña Sofía was ruled out on police advice. Sr Arriarán added: "Fuengirola is a town with little land and we could not accommodate the proposals put forward by the traders."