News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week May 11th to May 17th 2006
IRA MEMBERS ARRESTED ON COSTA
Smuggled cigarettes financed the IRA, claim police
By Oliver McIntyre
TWO ALLEGED MEMBERS OF IRA SPLINTER GROUP THE REAL IRA HAVE BEEN ARRESTED ON THE COSTA DEL SOL, ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING CIGARETTES TO RAISE MONEY TO SUPPORT THE NORTHERN IRELAND TERRORIST ORGANISATION.
The two arrested men, Thomas Philip C., 32, native of Dublin, and Aaron William J., 42, from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, have been transferred to the National Police headquarters in Madrid for questioning. Thomas Philip C. lived in San Pedro de Alcántara and Aaron William J. resided in Benalmádena, according to police.
498,000 PACKS OF CIGARETTES SEIZED
At the Guadalhorce industrial park in Málaga, police seized two lorries loaded with 498,000 packs of contraband cigarettes with an estimated street value in Spain of just over a million euros. Police say the men planned to transport the cigarettes to the UK, where the value would have multiplied due to higher cigarette prices.
"Part of the profits were to go to the financing of the terrorist organisation," said the police in an official statement. The men had been under investigation in Spain since mid-2004, under suspicion of trafficking in cigarettes and arms in support of the Real IRA.
The police say the cigarettes entered Spain from an unspecified Spanish port, possibly in Valencia, and were then stored at a warehouse in the Guadalhorce industrial park awaiting shipment to the UK. Police searches of the warehouse and four homes turned up 2,900 euros in cash and documents, which are being studied by authorities.
THIRD ARREST POSSIBLE
Police say the investigation remains open and further arrests are possible. A third person who is also under investigation may be arrested soon.
Belgian arrested for attempting to kill his daught
BY DAVID EADE
AN ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL IS IN THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT OF THE HOSPITAL MATERNO INFANTIL IN MÁLAGA AFTER HER BELGIAN FATHER ATTEMPTED TO KILL HER ON THE AP-7 TOLL MOTORWAY AS IT PASSES THROUGH BENAHAVÍS AT 16.30 ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON.
The 38-year-old Belgian was arrested by the Guardia Civil shortly after the incident. His shirt was covered in blood and the duty judge ordered his immediate imprisonment in Alhaurín de la Torre jail. At present he faces charges of attempted murder and endangering other traffic.
The daughter was born in Alicante in 1995 but lived with her father and mother, both of whom are Belgian, on the Costa del Sol until last December. The mother accused the father of maltreatment on a number of occasions and the court ordered that the father should stay away from her. He lived in Puerto Banús whilst she lived in another area of Marbella with the daughter.
According to the mother last Saturday was the first time the daughter had stayed with the father since their separation. On the Sunday afternoon he drove his Mercedes car along the toll motorway from Marbella in the direction of Cádiz. However once the motorway passed through Benahavís he crossed the barrier and started driving against the on-coming traffic.
A number of drivers phoned the Guardia Civil on the 062 number to advise them that the car was travelling in the wrong direction. After just 300 metres it hit a Peugeot occupied by two Dutch people who mercifully were only slightly injured. As their Mercedes could not be driven any further the father is alleged to have thrown the daughter out of the car, then hit her against the crash barrier before finally striking her against a car causing her very serious injuries.
As the Costa del Sol News went to print the Guardia Civil were checking whether the Belgian was implicated in a 20 million euro robbery that took place in Belgium in which an armoured lorry was attacked. They are also checking with Interpol and the Schengen Sirene office to determine whether he is on any wanted list.
Nerja protests as Axarquía backs "POT"
BY DAVE JAMIESON
IT WAS STANDING ROOM ONLY AT NERJA TOWN HALL AS THE MAYOR SET ABOUT EXPLAINING AT A PUBLIC MEETING HOW THE PLAN DE ORDENACÍON DEL TERRITORIO (POT) FOR THE AXARQUÍA WOULD AFFECT THE MUNICIPALITY.
The plan, drawn up by the Junta de Andalucía, is set to guide development in the Axarquía for the next decade.
The public meeting was called after the Town Hall, governed by the Partido Popular (PP), learned that its planned golf course would no longer become a reality, thanks to the decision of the Junta de Andalucía, governed by the PSOE, to reclassify the land reserved for it.
Sr Armijo also pointed out that the classification of Maro and the areas around the Miel river and Cantarriján had also been amended at the last minute and were now described as Places of Community Interest, rather than non-developable. He said that residents of the areas were unhappy at such a block on development. A further change affects El Playazo beach where, he said, the 100 metre wide protection strip along the shoreline had been increased to 300 metres, so that it now included land where plans for hotels and tourist facilities had been drawn up.
Many present displayed their indignation at the changes and called for strong action to oppose them, to which mayor José Alberto Armijo responded by saying he had already called for a revision of the POT which would "respect the opinions of the people of Nerja." He threatened to "mobilize" the town if the Junta did not backtrack on the subject.
An extraordinary meeting of the Town Council approved a motion for the mayor to demand a provisional suspension of the Axarquía POT in order for a period of dialogue to open. For once, the session was of a single mind with opposition PSOE councillors joining the Partido Andalucista (PA) and the ruling PP members in voting for the move.
Meanwhile, socialist mayors from other Axarquía towns have been lobbying the region's government for changes to the area's POT. The delegation, led by the mayors of Vélez-Málaga and Canillas de Aceituno, travelled to Sevilla last week to meet the councillor for public works at the Junta, Concepción Gutiérrez, to express their concerns.
However, by the time the meeting of all mayors representing Axarquía towns was held, they had fallen into line and voted for "conditional support" of the area's POT. The motion was carried by 30 votes to seven. Those municipalities voting against included the PP controlled towns of Nerja, Cómpeta, Cutar, Benamargosa, Canillas de Albaida, Salares and Iznate, and two controlled by the PA, Frigiliana and Benamocarra. Árchez, where Izquierda Unida control the Town Hall, abstained. After the meeting, Mayor Armijo of Nerja said that the decision seriously prejudiced the area and "gravely damaged" his town.
WESTERN COSTA DEL SOL "POT" APPROVED
Meanwhile on the western Costa del Sol, Casares, Estepona, Mijas and Ojén have all voted against the regional government's development plan for the coast because they believe it may interfere with their future plans. In addition Fuengirola, Marbella and Istán all abstained. Nonetheless the POT plan, which will regulate future development, received the go-ahead with thirteen votes in its favour although only Benahavís and Manilva supported it directly.
The plan went on to be approved by the provincial town planning authority on Monday and will be adopted by the regional government in due course. Some local councils believe they did not have a sufficient say in the drawing up of the POT document. Others such as Estepona and Mijas say the POT would be beneficial in protecting land, backed some of its measures but also had reservations. For example, the mayor of Estepona Antonio Barrientos, believes the plan will restrict development in the municipality.
Marbella's new commission fixes salaries
By David Eade
The members of the commission that will govern Marbella until the 2007 elections have unanimously voted their approval of their wage structure. The various spokespersons will each earn 4,975 euros a month whilst the president, Diego Martín Reyes, will receive 5,975 euros a month.
The commission has been keen to point out that the sums involved do not exceed those earned by the previous Marbella council. In addition none of those involved in the new administration will receive any monies from the municipal companies or from other sources.
At the same meeting the commission members voted that Rafael del Pozo should no longer hold the position of the chief of the municipal police, as he no longer enjoys their confidence. Currently Del Pozo is on medical leave due to the effects of depression and is also released on provisional bail for his part in the 'Operación Malaya' investigations into corruption at the town hall. His job is currently being filled on a temporary basis by Rafael Mora.
In the meantime the commission has asked judge Miguel Angel Torres who is carrying out the investigation surrounding 'Operación Malaya' for the return of the municipal papers seized at the time of the police raids on the town hall and planning offices. The commission spokesperson for town planning, Rafael Duarte, has requested the documents or copies of them, as they are needed so that his department can carry on the business of the town hall.
Britons arrested in European drugs swoop
BY DAVID EADE
OFFICERS OF THE EUROPEAN TEAM OF INVESTIGATION E-4 WORKING WITH THE GRUPO GRECO OF THE COSTA DEL SOL HAVE MADE SIX ARRESTS, THE MAJORITY OF THEM BRITONS, IN A MAJOR SWOOP ON DRUG TRAFFICKERS.
Those detained are alleged to be part of an organised gang based on the coast that sent drugs from Spain to various countries in Europe.
In the operation police seized ten kilos of cocaine, two kilos of heroin, a yacht moored in Puerto Banús, top of the range vehicles and large quantities of cash. It is the first major operation of the E-4 team that has been pioneered by the EU. It brings together the police forces of Spain, Britain, France and Holland.
In this instance the joint E-4 – Greco operation identified the gang in Spain that had links with Holland. Officers arrested three people in Amsterdam who are identified as Scotsman Justin McH who is wanted in the UK for attempted murder and has previous convictions in Spain; Gavin J who has previous convictions in the UK for money laundering and Dutchman Leonardus Hendrilus G.S. who is domiciled in Fuengirola.
GANG LEADER DETAINED
At the same time police in Spain swooped on the Costa del Sol to arrest the other members of the gang. They seized Paul Brian P, said to be the leader of the gang, and Dennis A in Fuengirola. Also detained were Hayley Margaret M (the girlfriend of Paul Brian P) and Fiona R (girlfriend of Gavin J) in Marbella. Police have stressed that investigations are continuing in both Spain and Holland.
Demolition order in Alhaurín
By Oliver McIntyre
Alhaurín de la Torre Town Hall has ordered the demolition of several illegal structures on a 2,500-square-metre property in Los Pinos de Alhaurín, despite the fact that the current owners did not build them. The illegal elements include six 285-square-metre, single-storey buildings, a 30-square-metre add-on to the main house, a 16-square-metre expansion to a built-in barbeque area and a 200-square-metre paddle court, all built without licences.
According to municipal officials, inspectors first identified the illegal building work in January 2005. In September of that year the developer, Jean Pierre V.D., was issued a fine of 163,448 euros, the maximum 100 per cent of the value of the illegal constructions. In February of this year the Town Hall issued the new owners – the property had since been sold – an order to tear down the illegal structures. The owners filed an appeal, but the Town Hall denied it on the basis that "the buyer is subject to the rights and obligations inherent in the real estate purchased, so the demolition should be carried out regardless of [the new owners] not having acted in bad faith." The owners have a month to demolish the illegal structures.
Controversy over Benalmádena hotel project
By Oliver McIntyre
The opposition Izquierda Unida party in Benalmádena has called on the Junta de Andalucía to take "urgent and immediate" measures to enforce its April 3 halt-work order on a hotel construction site in the La Perla area. The IU says work has continued on the site despite the order, which the Junta issued after finding that the hotel site infringed on protected shoreline land.
A worker at the site told Costa del Sol News that earth-moving and levelling work is currently being carried out on the lower part of the site but not the upper part, due to the stop-work order.
The IU has also filed a case with the anticorruption prosecutor, alleging irregularities in the Town Hall's reclassification of the land to allow the construction of the hotel. The group says the 1,700-square-metre property, originally classified for single-family homes, was reclassified for hotel use, with a seven-fold increase in the maximum allowable construction. Benalmádena Mayor Enrique Bolín rejects the IU's criticisms, saying the hotel's construction licence is fully legal, as was the process of reclassifying the property.
Celebrations as nuclear plant closes early
Greenpeace describe closure as 'a great victory'
BY DAVE JAMIESON
ENVIRONMENTALISTS HAVE BEEN CELEBRATING THE CLOSURE OF SPAIN'S OLDEST NUCLEAR POWER PLANT.
The José Cabrera Nuclear Power station at Almocinad de Zorita, near Guadalajara in Extramadura, was the country's first when it began operating 38 years ago. Although now closed, the decommissioning of the complex 50 kilometres from Madrid will not be finished until 2015 and will cost 170 million euros. Five per cent of the 95,000 tons of material to be removed are expected to show high levels of radioactivity or toxicity.
The owners, Union Fenosa, said that Cabrera, also the country's smallest nuclear plant, could have completed its intended cycle of 40 years' production without problems and been closed down in 2008, as was planned. However, the Government decided on early closure after campaigns by environmental groups who claimed the plant was unsafe.
Greenpeace took the opportunity to remind PM Zapatero of his election campaign promise to close the whole of Spain's nuclear power sector, adding that there was presently too much ambiguity on the issue on the Government's part. Juan López de Uralde, Executive Director of Greenpeace Spain, described the closure as, "a great victory for public health and the environment," which, he said, categorically demonstrated that Zorita's operation had been very dangerous because of numerous technical problems and the absence of a security culture. In April 2002, protestors from the group scaled the dome of Cabrera in a high-profile demonstration to draw attention what they claimed was lax security in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks the previous year. Greenpeace says that Spain has the potential to generate all of its current electricity demand 56 times over using renewable energy and that it is "incredible" that the Government is still considering including nuclear sources in the future of power provision.
UNION FENOSA PLANS
Union Fenosa plans to replace the Jose Cabrera plant with a gas-fired, combined-cycle power station on the same site, which - with two 400-megawatt generators - will be five times more powerful than its predecessor.
Vélez signs conference centre deal
News Staff Reporter
Vélez-Málaga's plans for a conference and exhibition centre have moved forward with the signing of a contract to develop the basic project. Mayor Antonio Souvirón has put his name to a 157,000 euro deal with Urbantran, the company whose winning design has been adopted.
A small lake, visible to drivers on the coastal autovía, will be the welcoming feature of the new building which will cover 16,280 square metres and has an estimated construction cost of 14 million euros. The plans by architect José María Valero will see the prestigious new centre developed on a 34,000 square metre site at the town's fairground, on avenida Juan Carlos I, close to the Eroski shopping centre.
Multi-purpose meeting rooms, classrooms and auditoriums will be built around a central Andalucían patio, plus catering, car parking for 204 vehicles, and other services. The architect plans to use the same white concrete for the construction as he used in his design of Zaragoza railway station because of its appearance, as well as the ease of keeping it clean and well maintained.
Málaga airport upgrade planned
Project to copy Madrid's Barajas airport luggage system
BY DAVE JAMIESON
Málaga airport's new passenger terminal is to have latest generation computer technology for handling luggage. With a capacity of 20 million passengers per year – twice the present figure – and 84 new check-in desks, the volume of suitcases, golf clubs, push chairs, hat boxes and other items to be stored in the hold will grow correspondingly.
To accommodate the increase, the Ministry of Development has licensed a project for the handling and inspection of luggage at Málaga with a price tag of 37.2 million euros over a period of 20 months. The system to be installed is similar to those already in use at Madrid Barajas airport, where 16,500 suitcases are handled every hour, and at Barcelona El Prat. It will be ready when the new terminal opens in two years.
Computers are used to activate a chain of robots which route the luggage from the check-in desks to their corresponding flights, with a considerable savings in time and manpower. In addition, the system is less prone to human error so minimising the potential for cases to become lost or loaded onto the wrong flight.
ELECTRIC POWER PLANTS
In addition to the baggage handling systems, two electricity generating plants are soon to be contracted to ensure adequate power for all the new installations. The first will be in service by next January.
Expats say Chiclana is 'lawless'
BY DAVID EADE
FOREIGN RESIDENTS IN CHICLANA VIEW THE TOWN AS BEING LAWLESS, WITH MAJOR TOWN PLANNING PROBLEMS AND A LACK OF BASIC SERVICES, ACCORDING TO THE PARTIDO SOCIALISTA DE ANDALUCÍA.
The PSA has held recent meetings with representatives of the foreign community during which these views were discussed.
The PSA is demanding that the town hall carry out inspections of properties offered for sale by estate agencies. It also wants the local authority to exercise greater control over the sale of illegal properties.
The left-of-centre party says most foreigners feel cheated because they have unknowingly bought houses built on land, which is not zoned for construction, and have no official electricity connection, but they are still paying taxes for these properties to the town hall. The PSA also suggests that a foreign residents department is set up by Chiclana's local authority.
Meanwhile Chiclana town hall has listened to the numerous complaints about streets being hosed down during the day and have ordered the cleaning to be done at night instead. Local business owners had claimed that they were losing custom because clients had to avoid the workers with high-pressure water machines or paddle through the puddles to get to their premises, especially after Easter week when the street cleaners were trying to remove candle wax from the roads and pavements.
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