News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Week December 9th to December 15th 2004.
MARBELLA SHOOTINGS CAUSE HAVOC
Seven year-old-boy and hairdresser killed by gunmen
BY DAVID EADE
MARBELLA IS IN A STATE OF SHOCK AFTER GUNMEN SHOT AND KILLED A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD BOY AND A 36-YEAR-OLD HAIRDRESSER’S OWNER IN THE JET SET RESORT’S LATEST GANGLAND SHOOTOUT.
Also injured in the hail of bullets were three other people, two of who are in a serious condition in hospital.
The tragic events took place at 17.30 on Saturday afternoon outside the Andalucía Plaza Hotel in Nueva Andalucía close to Puerto Banús. Three heavily armed men got out of an Audi car parked outside the hotel leaving a fourth man at the wheel. They walked to a BMW parked outside the Cosmo hairdressers, which is part of the hotel building, and fired at a man sitting in the passenger seat. Eyewitnesses then say that the trio ran to the entrance of the hotel and one of the men fired a hail of bullets inside. The men were armed with automatic rifles and reports state that police found over 100 spent shells at the scene of the shooting.
Killed in the outrage was the 36-year-old Italian male owner of the hairdressers. Slain too was a seven-year-old boy from Sevilla who was on a short holiday to Marbella. He was waiting in the interior of the hotel for members of his family when around 6 bullets hit him in the abdomen. His aunt and another family member were amongst those injured.
BUSINESSMAN COMES FORWARD
After the shooting, an Algerian-born French businessman, without any known previous convictions, went to Marbella National Police station and told officers that he believed that he was the target of the killers. The businessman is involved in the exclusive fashions industry and commutes between Paris and Marbella. He was in the hairdressers at the time of the shooting.
He claims that he did not know the identity of the four men but they appeared to be looking for a second man after shooting his colleague sitting in the BMW. The injured man, who also has no previous convictions, has been described as the Frenchman’s friend and bodyguard. A pistol was found beneath the BMW car and officers have arrested him in his hospital bed on charges of alleged possession of an illicit firearm.
NO ARRESTS SO FAR
The government’s sub-delegate in Málaga province, Hilario López Luna, confirmed as the Costa del Sol News went to press that no arrests had yet been made. Police are searching for the getaway vehicle and also want to question an English speaking man who entered and exited the hairdressers several times before the shooting took place.
This latest killing has sent shock waves through the tourism sector on the Costa del Sol. Marbella has appealed for a trebling of the number of National Police assigned to the resort. Currently the Marbella force should stand at 231 but 47 posts remain unfilled
ETA EXPLODES SEVEN BOMBS IN ONE DAY
Málaga bomb causes no injuries
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
THE BASQUE-SEPARATIST TERRORIST GROUP ETA EXPLODED SEVEN BOMBS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY MONDAY, SPAIN’S DAY OF THE CONSTITUTION, INCLUDING ONE IN THE CENTRE OF MÁLAGA.
None of the bombs caused fatalities and only two, in Santillana del Mar (Cantabria) and Ciudad Real (Castilla-La Mancha), caused several minor injuries. The Málaga bomb, located in some bushes along the Paseo de España near the Eduardo Ocón outdoor theatre, was of minor size and caused no injuries.
All of the bombs, located in seven cities, exploded at about the same time, around 13.30, shortly after two anonymous calls to a Basque newspaper, Gara, alerted authorities to the location of the explosives and the timing of their detonation. The faulty description of the location of some of the bombs, particularly the one in Santillana del Mar, contributed to the injuries caused by the explosions.
In addition to Málaga, Santillana del Mar and Ciudad Real, the bombs exploded in Ávila, León, Alicante and Valladolid. An eighth bomb, also set to go off at 13.30 Monday, was previously detected by police in Almería on Saturday and disarmed.
SYNCHRONISED SET OF EXPLOSIONS
Monday’s bomb attacks came following another synchronised set of explosions on Friday afternoon around Madrid, at the beginning of the Día de la Constitución holiday weekend. The Friday ETA bombings occurred at five petrol stations surrounding the capital, causing only a two minor injuries – eardrum damage to two police officers – but grinding traffic to a halt along the packed motorways as thousands of people were leaving Madrid for the long weekend.
All of the bombs were relatively small in size, between 200 and 1,500 grams, according to authorities, and were ammonium nitrate-based. They were similar to those used by ETA in its several summer attacks this year throughout the country, none of which caused fatalities.
In Málaga, Monday’s bomb marked another in a long series of attacks or attempted attacks on the Costa region by ETA, beginning in 2000 with the murder of Málaga councillor José María Martín Carpena. That same year ETA failed in a second attempted political assassination in the Costa capital. The summer of 2001 saw a thwarted attempt to explode a 60-kilo car bomb at the Málaga airport, and in June 2002 the terrorist group planted two car bombs at hotels in Fuengirola and Marbella and a package bomb at Tamisa Golf in Mijas, causing six injuries and an estimated 1.4 million euros in damages. In summer 2003 police arrested two ETA members in Alicante and Benidorm who were later discovered to have been planning attacks on two hotels in Torremolinos and Málaga. Summer 2004 was the first since 2000 in which there were no ETA-related terror attacks or threats in the Costa area.
Phone fraud returns to Nerja
By Dave Jamieson
There have been new reports of telephone scams in Nerja. The Municipal Consumers Office reported last week that an increasing number of elderly people appear to have been targeted in the latest outbreak of a fraud in which one or more phone calls advise of an urgent package awaiting delivery. Victims are told that they should make a phone call to claim their parcel, but when the supplied number is rung, the caller is put on hold for many minutes, often listening to music and with no operator to talk to.
The number given begins with 806, which connects to a premium rate service costing over one euro per minute at peak times, including mid-mornings when the majority of the nuisance calls have been received. Only when the telephone bill arrives - and the package fails to - does the existence of the scam become apparent.
In September, residents of Nerja and Maro who had been victims of a previous premium rate fraud, welcomed the Government’s decision to toughen regulations on the use of 803, 806, 807 and 907 numbers. A ministerial order then promised new measures including a 20 second recorded message at the start of each call, advising the caller of the price and type of service before charging begins. The order, which was to be implemented within a month, threatened operators not complying with the new rules with the suspension of their contracts.
Nerja’s Consumer Office last week advised that no response to such fraudulent calls should be undertaken, but that they should be reported to their base at the Town Hall.
Three Britons rescued on high seas
By David Eade
Three Britons, two men and a woman, arrived on Saturday in the port of Cádiz on board the cargo vessel ‘Asian Enterprise’ after it responded to their ‘Mayday’ call on the high seas.
The trio identified only as Wendy KL, Stuart G and Nigel P had 24-hours earlier been sailing in their yacht ‘Westalis’ when they had been surprised by the bad state of the sea with the waves swamping their vessel. They made their first call at 9.30 on Friday morning from a point 110 nautical miles west of Casablanca. According to a statement released by the government’s sub-delegation in Cádiz the crew were seeking information on the worsening weather conditions and the ‘Asian Enterprise’ responded to their enquiry.
At 11.00 the Panamanian registered ship heard a clear ‘Mayday’ distress call from the yacht and proceeded in its direction. The alarm call was also picked up by the coastal radio station at Casablanca but was informed by the ‘Asian Enterprise’ that it was already carrying out a search operation in the zone. The cargo vessel finally located the ‘Westalis’ at 14.30. It found the three Britons slightly hurt and in a state of exhaustion. Within half-an-hour the crew of the ‘Asian Enterprise’ had rescued the three Britons and almost certainly saved their lives.
The ‘Asian Enterprise’ was en route to Cádiz to undergo repairs in the shipyards and notified the Spanish coast guard service that it was bringing the three Britons to Spain and asked that the British consulate be notified. Once the vessel was off the Spanish coast it put the three Britons in radio contact with their families in Scotland so that could tell them what happened and assure them of their safety.
Junta to protect 70 per cent of western costa
Planning for western Costa population of 1.7 million by 2015
By David Eade
THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT’S MINISTER FOR PUBLIC WORKS, CONCEPCIÓN GUITIÉRREZ, HAS PRESENTED A DRAFT TOWN PLANNING ORDINANCE FOR THE WESTERN COSTA DEL SOL THAT SHE SAYS WILL BE TOTALLY TRANSPARENT FOR THE PROPERTY INDUSTRY AND ALSO PROTECT 70 PER CENT OF THE LAND IN THE ZONE.
The ordinance, known as the ‘Plan de Ordenación Territorial de la Costa del Sol Occidental’, makes provision a projected population of 1.7 million people by 2015 in the area between Fuengirola and Manilva. If that growth is achieved it would be a doubling of the existing population.
The government’s plan will make the existing toll motorway the barrier beyond which new construction will not be allowed. The minister says that in the area between the motorway and the coastal strip there is “sufficient capacity to accommodate the predicted population.”
In addition, a ‘Corredor marítimo’ will be created to prevent construction less than 50 metres from the shoreline. No beach activity or construction such as deckchair zones, beach bars or water-sport concessions will be allowed without government permission. The sand dunes of Artola, covering 170,000 square metres, are included in this corridor, as well as 27 other points from the Fuengirola to Estepona.
The plan also calls for the creation of 14 coastal parks. In addition, north of the toll motorway, the plan envisages the doubling of the existing protected green space to create a series of ‘grand parks of the mountains’. There is also protection for the Guadiaro River valley, deemed to be of high agricultural value.
The new plan is about to be published in the regional government’s official bulletin (BOJA) and thereafter will be available for public review. The Ministry of Public Works says it will be ready for approval and passage into law by Easter next year.
The regional government is estimating the following population growth by 2015 for each of the municipalities included in the plan. Benahavís: current estimated actual population, 8,367; projected 2015 population, 67,701. Casares: current, 6,714; projected, 37,636. Estepona: current, 91,882; projected, 316,347. Fuengirola: current, 121,000; projected, 205,311. Istán: current, 1,789; projected, 8,192. Manilva: current, 17,602; projected, 121,788. Marbella: current, 250,887; projected, 514,212. Mijas: current, 114,229; projected, 475,728. And Ojén: current, 3,906; projected, 23,661.
Unclaimed body of Belgian man to be cremated
By Oliver McIntyre
The body of a deceased Belgian man sat unclaimed in a refrigerated morgue drawer for 12 days before a Torremolinos court finally ruled last week that the Town Hall had to take responsibility for the cremation of the corpse. The man, P.G., believed to be in his 60s, had been living as a drifter in Torremolinos and had no known address, according to authorities. He died at the town’s Hospital Marítimo on November 20. Although his identity was quickly established, no family members or official entity stepped forward to take responsibility for his body.
The hospital says it contacted the Belgian Consulate, which days later responded that the man’s family did not wish to claim the body. Nor did the consulate itself offer to take responsibility, indicating that in such cases it is usually the deceased’s last town of residence that handles the burial or cremation. But Torremolinos Town Hall also refused to take responsibility, as the man was not a registered (‘empadronado’) resident of the town.
The unclaimed corpse sat in the morgue locker for nearly two weeks, while hospital workers began to worry that it would start to deteriorate, causing hygienic concerns. The hospital finally went to the courts for a decision, and the judge ordered the Town Hall to pay for the cremation and disposal.
Nerja microchip law to be enforced
CAS highlight microchip reader mystery
By DAVE JAMIESON
THE TOWN HALL HAS CONFIRMED THAT THE REQUIREMENT TO IDENTIFY PET ANIMALS WILL BE ENFORCED FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW YEAR, WHILE AN ANIMAL WELFARE GROUP, CAS, HAS QUESTIONED THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES' ABILITIES TO CARRY THIS OUT.
The problem of lost and abandoned dogs in Nerja has resurfaced on two conflicting planes in the last fortnight.
Last week, Councillor Rafael Rivas, himself a local vet, announced that in line with a local ordinance approved in 1997, dogs have to be fitted with a microchip or given a tattoo so that they can be identified. After a year's moratorium, the legislation which makes this a requirement would be implemented next month. He said that the Town Hall would meet its obligation to undertake a "canine census" and would provide all the data to Málaga's Veterinary College. Sr Rivas added that the local police office has had a microchip reader at its disposal for some time, which provides a quick way of identifying a lost animal and reuniting it with its owner.
However, a Nerja-based animal welfare group, the Costa Animal Society (CAS), has questioned several issues surrounding the practice of microchipping dogs. First, it has asked for an explanation of why two microchipped dogs lost in Nerja turned up in a pound inland from Torremolinos. They claim the Nerja pound was telephoned every day to find out if the animals had turned up, but that the dogs had been eventually treated as unclaimed and taken to Torremolinos. Happily, on arrival there, they were scanned for the presence of microchips and so identified, but CAS wants to know why they had not been scanned in Nerja. The organisation suggest that either the scanner, which was donated to the town by a local animal charity, has "disappeared" or that nobody knows how to use it. "The mystery of the whereabouts of the Nerja scanner remains unsolved," they say.
CAS is also concerned that the legislation relating to microchipping pets is not being adequately explained to the public. The group also claims that there have been cases of the relevant authorities not having access to scanner and of operatives being unsure of its use, and says that it is unclear whether police stations, dog pounds and other relevant establishments have a legal obligation to possess a scanner and be able to use it properly.
Finally, CAS points out that only dogs microchipped in Andalucía automatically appear on the region's database. Animals brought in from elsewhere in Spain or from another country should be taken to a vet where the chip can be read and the dog registered on the Andalucían system.
Condition of Nacimiento Park denounced
By Oliver McIntyre
The opposition Partido Andalucista at Coín Town Hall publicly denounced what it considers the state of abandonment and lack of maintenance at the town's emblematic Nacimiento Park. The centrepiece of the park, the man-made lagoons at the mouth of the Nacimiento spring, is marred by litter and weeds, while broken streetlamps and other damage around the grounds remain unrepaired, said the PA. The party's spokesman, Juan José Rodríguez Osorio, expressed particular concern for the spring itself, one of the principal water sources for Coín, saying litter has accumulated near the intake of the municipal water system. The PA says it plans to submit to the governing team at the Town Hall a written request for a thorough cleaning up of the Nacimiento and its grounds, the original creation of which cost the municipality some 1.8 million euros, according to the group.
Town Hall's denial
The Town Hall last week denied that the Nacimiento is in a state of abandonment or neglect, and assured that there is no hygienic danger to the spring or the water system. Environment councillor Rodrigo Gallero stated that the lagoons are cleaned periodically and the grounds are maintained appropriately. Just days later, the Town Hall announced that examples of an endangered species of freshwater crayfish had been found at the site this winter. According to Environment councillor Rodrigo Gallero, the discovery means that special care must be taken in the upkeep and maintenance of the Nacimiento, as the Junta de Andalucía's special-protection status for the crayfish requires not just preservation of the animal itself, but also of its habitat. He said that because of this the Town Hall is not using herbicides or other similar substances at the site.
Benalmádena demo sparks clash
Opposition calls for mayor's resignation
By Oliver McIntyre
THE NOVEMBER 25 PROTEST AGAINST BENALMÁDENA'S PLANNED 20-STOREY BUILDINGS AND ELEVATED MONORAIL TRAIN, IN WHICH OVER 2,000 PEOPLE MARCHED THROUGH THE STREETS OF ARROYO DE LA MIEL (CDSN, DEC. 2 - 8), SPARKED A CLASH LAST WEEK BETWEEN OPPOSING FORCES AT THE TOWN HALL
Following Mayor Enrique Bolín's initial reaction to the protest, in which he reasserted his staunch support for the controversial projects and indicated that they just needed to be better explained to the public, the lead councillor for the opposition Partido Popular, Jesús Fortes, publicly called for the mayor's resignation. Sr Fortes accused the mayor of ignoring the voice and desires of the town's residents and of being unwilling to enter into dialogue or negotiation with citizen groups or other political parties at the Town Hall.
Mayor Bolín's governing team issued a swift response to Sr Fortes' lashing out at the mayor. Dismissing as folly his call for Sr Bolín's resignation, GIB party spokesman Manuel Crespo challenged the PP leader to attempt to overthrow the mayor. "In a democracy, you either win the election every four years or you present an ouster motion," he said. He accused Sr Fortes of being part of an "anti-Bolín platform" and said the PP leader was doing damage to his own party by aligning it with the more left-wing opposition PSOE and Izquierda Unida parties at the Town Hall.
PLATFORM DELIVERS COMPLAINTS
The November 25 protest march was organised by the 'Plataforma Ciudadana por un Desarrollo Sostenible' (Citizens' Platform for Sustainable Development). The group had the support of all three opposition parties at the Town Hall, as well as the CC.OO and UGT trade unions. At the end of last week, the platform, along with the opposition parties, delivered to the Town Hall 3,000 complaints against the proposed 20-storey buildings.
All clear expected for Estepona hotel
By David Eade
The mayor of Estepona, Antonio Barrientos, has stated that he expects the overbuilding crisis surrounding the luxury H10 hotel to be positively resolved at a meeting of the provincial town planning commission on December 14.
The company that owns the hotel last week paid in to the town hall coffers more than 900,000 euros as the second instalment under the terms of the pact agreed with the previous Partido Popular administration. It paid the money after assurances from the mayor that an agreement had been reached between the technicians of the regional government and the town hall on the legality of the construction.
The mayor reported that the hotel would now pay the town hall 2.09 million euros, 600,000 euros more than originally agreed in 2001. The additional sum covers the overbuilding on the site and the balance of 1.07 million euros would be paid once the regional government confirms it has approved the scheme.
The Partido Popular spokesperson, Ricardo Galeote, stated that he was surprised that the company had paid that sum to the town hall purely on a verbal assurance from the mayor that approval would be forthcoming before the regional government had confirmed it. He added that there was still the possibility that its approval would "not be a reality".
Meanwhile another hotel on Estepona's beachside Avenida de España has been lying in a skeleton state for months after the works were embargoed for not complying with the building regulations. Now it can resume construction after agreeing to demolish more than 2,000 metres of building that sits on public land. The ruling was given by the provincial society of planning and development (SOPDE) but the hotel will be able to keep parking spaces that are sited on land belonging to the port authority.
Mijas to create green belt
Project includes riverbank park
By Oliver McIntyre
MIJAS TOWN HALL LAST WEEK REVEALED PLANS FOR AN AMBITIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT TO CREATE A GREEN BELT LINKING THE TOWN'S SIERRA TO ITS SHORELINE.
Described by the Town Hall as a 'corredor ecológico', the green belt, which will include a 400,000-square-metre riverbank park, is aimed at both protecting the environment and creating recreational space for the public. The project also includes restoration and flood-prevention work on streambeds and drainage gullies.
The new riverbank park is to be located in the zone known as Finca El Marqués, and will be connected to the existing El Esparragal park via horseback, bicycling and walking trails along the Las Pasadas, Ojén and Fuengirola rivers. The green belt will take in El Cerrajón and continue down to the town's western shoreline. Along its route, it will branch off into the municipality's existing system of hiking trails, both in the coastal area and in the sierra.
The green belt project has been included in the draft version of the town's new urban growth plan (PGOU), and the Town Hall has already commissioned a 30,000-euro hydrological and environmental study to identify necessary restoration and flood-control work. The study is expected to be completed within four months.
Hospital staff shortage feared for Xmas
New legislation forces retirements
By DAVE JAMIESON
THERE ARE WARNINGS OF POSSIBLE STAFF SHORTAGES IN HOSPITALS AND HEALTH CENTRES OVER CHRISTMAS AFTER THE FORCIBLE RETIREMENT OF MORE THAN 100 HEALTH SERVICES EMPLOYEES LAST WEEK.
The new Human Resources legislation, approved by the Junta de Andalucía in November and which has forced staff members aged 65 or more to retire from their jobs on December 1, has been opposed by trades unions representing medical staff. The CCOO and UGT unions say that certain areas of specialist health care could suffer from a lack of attention while the Andalucian Health Syndicate has questioned whether the health authority, the Servicio Andaluz de Salud (SAS), would exercise "the same haste in providing substitute professionals". The organisations say that the probable outcome will be problems in hospitals as a result of fewer specialists, while warning of "complications" in the area of primary care during the Christmas period as a result of the lack of replacement staff. The move was described as "discriminatory" and "restrictive" by Fermín Parrondo, president of the Medical Syndicate, who claimed it was made for economic reasons, with doctors of great prestige being replaced by younger staff who are paid lower wages.
The 128 SAS staff who ended work on December 1 were amongst 939 workers throughout Andalucía who were forced into retirement last week, a total which included 265 nurses and 432 doctors. Of these health workers, 306 came from specialist areas and 126 from primary care services such as anaesthesia, neurology and obstetrics. In the province of Málaga alone, the medical sector lost over 40 workers plus over 60 nursing auxiliaries and support staff.
The SAS, however, moved to make assurances that all the newly-vacant positions would be filled and there would be no reduction in service levels. The Authority has also been considering requests from a number of doctors who have been forcibly retired and have requested a return to work. At Carlos Haya Hospital in Málaga, seven of the 19 medics who finished work on December 1 were permitted to restart work last Friday, while the SAS has promised a full resolution of the matter within a month.
New anti-smoking law draft
NEWS Staff Reporter
The Ministry of Health's draft version of a new anti-smoking law calls for fines of up to one million euros for offenders. Offences considered 'very serious', with potential fines of between 10,001 euros and one million euros, include selling tobacco to minors; allowing minors access to cigarette vending machines; using cigarette-brand names, logos or symbols for advertising goods or services; and the advertising, promotion or sponsorship of tobacco products in the press.
Offences categorised as 'serious' carry fines of between 601 and 10,000 euros. They include allowing smoking in areas where it is prohibited; providing minors with products that mimic tobacco or encourage smoking; the sale of cigarettes in packages of less than 20 units; selling tobacco products at a discount; and installing cigarette vending machines outside or directly at the entrance to establishments. 'Minor' infractions, with fines of up to 600 euros, include the failure of establishments to post the required signs regarding tobacco-sales age restrictions or smoking-related health risks; lack of health-warning messages on vending machines; and failure to post 'No Smoking' signs where applicable.
The Health Ministry has submitted the draft of the new law to the rest of the government ministries, the 17 autonomous communities, the National Health Service and other interested sectors for review and comment.