News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Week 21st September - 27th September 2006
ROADSIDE DEATH WAITMan dies on roadside while awaiting emergency services
By Dave Jamieson
CALLS FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO THE 061 EMERGENCY SERVICE HAVE INCREASED AFTER A YOUNG MÁLAGA MAN DIED ON THE ROADSIDE WAITING AN HOUR FOR EMERGENCY TREATMENT FOLLOWING AN ACCIDENT.
The accident happened last Thursday on the A-92 Antequera-to-Granada road near Loja when the man and a companion were travelling east on their motorbikes at the start of a touring holiday. His vehicle was hit by a car, hurling him onto the central reservation.
The man’s friend called for an ambulance and in the meantime he was given basic medical attention at the scene by a local doctor from the health centre at Cuesta de la Palma. When no ambulance arrived, the friend called again and was told there were none available. Eventually, she was advised that the air ambulance, a helicopter based over 100-kilometres away at Baza, had been sent, but by the time it arrived, an hour after the accident, the victim had died.
AMBULANCES ALL IN USE
Eladio Gil, director of the 061 service in the province of Granada, said that the three ambulances in the area, based at Loja, Zafarraya and Huétor Tájar, were already on emergency call-outs at the time. Fifty-five minutes after the first call for help, the helicopter had arrived and was looking for a landing spot, but by then the local doctor was giving heart massage to try and keep the young man alive, said Sr Gil. By the time the emergency crew reached the scene, he had died.
HELICOPTER BUT NO CREW
Málaga has an 061 emergency helicopter but no full-time medical crew devoted exclusively to it. Instead medics are borrowed from one of the local ambulances. Normally the ambulance crew at the Hospital Clínico – where the helicopter is based – is called on, but if that team is not available another crew must be grabbed from an ambulance not on call at the time.
Trade union representatives in the Málaga 061 service say they have long been demanding a full-time crew for the helicopter. They point out that not only does the current system mean slower response times, but it leaves an unmanned ambulance when the helicopter is in use, leaving a hole in coverage.
Officials of 061 emergency services say there are plans to have full-time crews for all five of its helicopters in the region within two years. Currently only the helicopters in Sevilla and Granada are fully manned, while those in Málaga, Cádiz and Córdoba are not.
Jimena shooting to be re-enactedNEWS Staff Reporter
The San Roque court investigating the shooting of an Estepona man by a Guardia Civil officer in Estación de Jimena in June of this year has ordered a re-enactment of the incident, to be carried out sometime this month.
A van identical to the one Miguel Clavijo was travelling in on June 13 when he was shot and killed will be used in the re-enactment. The same number of Guardia Civil officers will be on the scene, in the same positions as on the day of the shooting.
The exercise is aimed at ascertaining why the Guardia Civil officer accused of the accidental shooting had his gun drawn in the first place, and what caused him to fire the fatal shot.At a hearing this week it was stated that the officers were at the scene to try to intercept a gang of Romanians who had opened fire on a Guardia Civil patrol the day before. The uncle of the victim, who was driving the van at the time of the incident, testified that there was no sign of a Guardia Civil roadblock or patrol.
Scottish money-laundering mastermind arrested‘Tartan Pimpernel’ accused of large operation in Marbella
By David Eade
BY DAVID EADEPOLICE HAVE ARRESTED WALTER ‘WATTIE’ DOUGLAS, ALSO NICKNAMED THE ‘TARTAN PIMPERNEL’, AS THE ALLEGED MASTERMIND BEHIND A MAJOR MONEY-LAUNDERING OPERATION BASED IN MARBELLA.
After 12 years on the run, he was nabbed by police after attempting to enter Ibiza on a false passport last Friday.
Police say the Scotsman is charged with laundering £150 million of drug money, at least part of it in his Marbella-based operation. In 1990 he was questioned by Spanish police after the shooting death of Great Train Robber Charlie Wilson in the Costa jet-set resort.
A Marbella judge issued the warrant for Douglas’s arrest. His Costa del Sol money-laundering scheme is alleged to have involved property and financial investments worth millions. He has been moved from Ibiza to the Spanish mainland under strict security.
TO BE TRIED IN SPAIN
It is not the first time Douglas has been held in a Spanish jail; he was detained in Alhaurín de la Torre in 1998 but an attempt to extradite him to Holland failed due to procedural problems. The Spanish authorities insist that presently he is part of a Spanish investigation and faces trial here before any extradition to Holland or Britain will be considered. Spanish police describe Douglas, 45, as the principal narcotics dealer in Scotland. He has been on the Interpol most wanted list since 1994 when he jumped bail in Holland on a £60 million drug charge.
UK burglars caught on the internet - from MarbellaVictim watches home-security video on his laptop as crime unfolds
By David Eade
JOHN ELLISON, AN ENGINEERING COMPANY BOSS ON HOLIDAY IN MARBELLA, WATCHED VIA THE INTERNET AS BURGLARS BROKE IN TO HIS LANCASTER HOME.
Mr Ellison had invested in a costly Web-connected CCTV system and was able to watch on his laptop as the burglary unfolded.The system sent his mobile telephone an SMS message alerting him that somebody had forced the conservatory door at his luxury home. He quickly logged on and saw the thieves at work. He duly informed the local police back home and then watched for 40 minutes until they arrived on the scene and arrested two of the three robbers.
‘WORTH EVERY PENNY’
The £20,000 system has 16 CCTV cameras, which clearly showed one of the raiders wearing a Bart Simpson mask and hiding in Mr Ellison’s bathroom as the police arrived. The businessman said the system was expensive but worth every penny, and that the police were especially impressed that he’d alerted them from his holiday home in Spain.
High Court to hear Wanninkhof case appealBy David Eade
The Andalucía High Court (TSJA) is to meet on September 25 to make a final ruling on whether to admit further evidentiary investigation and additional testimony in the Rocío Wanninkhof murder case against Tony Alexander King. King’s lawyers appealed to the TSJA after the provincial court ruled against their initial request.
The additional witness wanted by King’s legal team include Dolores Vázquez, the woman previously found guilty of the 1999 murder but later absolved after her jury trial was overturned. The additional investigation they want is of a bag of the victim’s personal belongings that was left on her mother’s doorstep.
King’s lawyer, Javier Saavedra, says the evidence presented for new analysis should have been produced before. He also says he is surprised that further testimony cannot be heard from Dolores Vázquez or other people involved in the case.King is now the sole accused in the murder of Wanninkhof. The prosecutor is seeking a prison sentence for 26 years and nine months for the murder and sexual assault of Mijas teenager. King is currently serving a 36-year sentence for the murder of 17-year-old Sonia Carabantes in Coín.
Golf regulation tees off industryJunta’s planned law would ‘paralyse’ Costa golf development
By Oliver McIntyre
THE POPULAR AND ECONOMICALLY IMPORTANT COSTA GOLF INDUSTRY IS TEED OFF OVER REGIONAL-GOVERNMENT PLANS TO PASS A NEW LAW TIGHTLY REGULATING COURSE DEVELOPMENT.
The Association of Residential and Sport Tourism Promoters (Promotur) announced last week that it if the Junta de Andalucía passes an overly restrictive law – some groups are pushing for it to completely ban the linking together of golf courses and residential developments as single projects – the association will file a legal appeal against it.
Under the conditions set out in the draft legislation, “it would be difficult to build any more golf courses in Andalucía,” said Promotur’s president, Ramón Dávila. As currently proposed, the law would “completely paralyse the sector,” he said.
“No [new] law is even necessary because there are already a great number of laws regulating this activity,” according to a report by Promotur. But if the Junta is set on introducing a new law, it should do so “with the consensus of all the affected sectors, allowing sufficient time to carry out the necessary studies,” says the report.
Throughout Andalucía, the golf industry generates annual revenues of 700 million euros, according to Promotur. If indirect economic impact is considered – hotel stays, dining out, transport, complimentary recreational activities – the figure jumps to nearly two billion euros. The group also cites 5,000 jobs directly linked to the golf industry and about twice that many indirectly connected to it. In addition, it says golf tourists spend around three times what typical sun-and-beach tourists spend each day during their stay.Any regulation of the golf industry should be aimed at “maximising the benefits that it represents for the region … permitting the development and proliferation of good courses,” says Promotur. Such development “can be seen only as a positive thing for a region that aspires to be a leader in domestic and international tourism,” argues the industry group.
Álora, Coín and Pizarra join Málaga POTBy Dave Jamieson
Álora, Coín and Pizarra have been included in the regional development plan (POT, for ‘Plan de Ordenación Territorial’) for the Málaga metropolitan area. In a surprise move, the Junta de Andalucía has decided to extend the zone covered by the plan, which defines development in Málaga city and surrounding towns for the next 10 years.
Málaga’s councillor for urbanisation, Juan Ramón Casero, said that he had been advised by letter that the three towns would be included in the city’s POT, so joining an already vast geographical spread which takes in Torremolinos and Benalmádena, both the Alhauríns, Almogía, Cártama, Casabermeja and Totalán, as well as Rincón de la Victoria. The letter gave the town hall 15 days in which to argue against the proposal, a requirement which Sr Casero said had put extreme pressure on his department. The councillor expressed concern that, while the areas to be covered by the POT were defined 10 years ago, and work began on the plan in earnest in 2004, they have been given only two weeks to react to the inclusion of the three additional towns. He said the matter raised many issues, citing as an example the need for improved road networks in the Guadalhorce Valley, one of a range of subjects which until now have not been included within Málaga’s POT considerations.
Residents demand proper access roadCalahonda Royale residents want action from Mijas town hall
By David Eade
RESIDENTS OF CALAHONDA ROYALE, ONE OF THE AREA’S LARGEST URBANISATIONS, WANT MIJAS TOWN HALL TO CREATE A PROPER ENTRANCE ROAD TO THE COMPLEX.
Without the access road, the residents claim they cannot obtain certificates of first occupancy for their properties, which would bring them better services.
A large number of the 700 Calahonda Royale property owners live in Madrid for most of the year and use the Mijas apartments as second homes. They say they took possession five years ago and have been paying both the IBI property tax and rubbish collection charges ever since.
Nonetheless, they claim they have no postal service and, because the developer did not create a proper access road, they are not entitled to the first-occupancy certificates that would allow them to solicit other basic services for the urbanisation.
The angry owners have been asking Mijas for help but say their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. They suspect that the local government’s apparent lack of interest could be because they are Madrid residents and they do not permanently reside at Calahonda Royale and hence have no local vote.
Court asked to halt Ronda golf developmentBy David Eade
The regional government’s minister for public works, Concepción Gutiérrez, has presented a case to the Andalucía High Court (TSJA) to halt the construction of the golf development at Merinos Norte in Ronda. The complex has the backing of Ronda town hall but it has been fiercely opposed by ecologists and local residents who fear its negative effect on the natural water supplies and surrounding environment.
The development is planned to include 800 luxury homes, two golf courses, commercial buildings and hotels on ecologically-rich land in the Biosphere Reserve that contains aquifers that serve Arriate, Cuevas del Becerro, Serrato, La Cimada, Los Prados and Setenil.
The regional government is claiming that the project does not comply with the use of the land in the local development plan (PGOU) nor does it have the necessary hydraulic resources to allow it to become a reality. The environment ministry had presented a case against the golf complex whilst it was open to public scrutiny and that is now understood to be the basis of the minister’s case. The court has been asked to halt the project, and although construction has not started, earth works are already being undertaken.The European Commission has now opened an investigation into the development’s water supply needs. In addition, the Andalucía water authority which is a department of the regional government has not approved the scheme because of water supply problems.
Torrox beachfront is choice real estateBy Dave Jamieson
A new survey has revealed a surprising name at the top of the league of Andalucía’s seaside towns and cities ranked by property prices. It is not an apartment with a marina view at Puerto Banús, but frontline real estate in Torrox Costa.
The firm Foro Consultores carried out the study which revealed that anyone owning bricks and mortar along the town’s Ferrara beach is sitting on the some of the most expensive square metres in the region. Only eight other beaches throughout the country have property of a higher value.
Naturally, the town hall, which already boasts that Torrox has “the best climate in Europe,” is jubilant. The tourism councillor, Francisco Castro, said it was a combination of the town’s unique location, the quality of the sea water and the tourist facilities available which made Torrox so attractive to buyers.The survey shows that property along Ferrara beach is valued at 2,676 euros per square metre, while the country’s most expensive, in Mallorca, costs 4,744 euros per square metre.
Illegal building still plagues ChiclanaTown hall seeks solution to more than 15,000 illegal properties
By David Eade
THE APPROVAL OF THE NEW LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (PGOU) FOR CHICLANA, WHICH CAME INTO FORCE A YEAR AGO, IS EXPECTED TO REDUCE FUTURE ILLEGALLY BUILT PROPERTIES IN THE MUNICIPALITY, BUT LOCAL OFFICIALS ARE STILL STRUGGLING TO DEAL WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF EXISTING ILLEGAL BUILDINGS.
Experts say the area still has a major problem with properties that were built without the necessary permits and licences.
Zones outside the town centre are the worst affected, especially urbanisations such as Pinar de los Franceses, Batería Colorada, El Marquesado, Pago del Humo, El Cotín and El Sotillo. In these locations, both private individuals and small development companies still take advantage of the fact that it is more difficult for the town hall to demolish buildings once the structure has been completed and the roof installed.
More than 15,000 properties have been built illegally in Chiclana in the past 25 years, and the local government is attempting to regularise the situation of as many as possible. In some areas, such as Rana Verde, El Florín and Batería Colorada, the town hall is already planning to provide new services, but the costs will be payable by property owners.
Granada skiers to have world-beating cable carCity-to-slopes ride will take 40 minutes
By Dave Jamieson
PLANS ARE UNDERWAY TO BRING THE BIGGEST CABLE-CAR SYSTEM IN THE WORLD TO GRANADA.
From 2010, the new system could be carrying 3,600 passengers every hour on the 19-kilometre, 40-minute journey from the capital to the ski slopes of the Sierra Nevada.
The 150 million-euro project has been launched by a group of private investors, most of them from the province, who last week made their plans public. The group, Teleférico de Sierra Nevada, SA, says the project will generate more than 200 jobs and contribute to Granada’s role as a world tourism centre. It also emphasises that the plan is environmentally beneficial, as skiers will be able to leave vehicles at ground level, instead of having to drive up into the mountains. The group assures that no part of the construction will be on land within the Sierra Nevada National Park.
The cable-car system, to be built by the specialist firm Doppelmayr, a world leader in such work, will be able to withstand winds of as much as 120 kilometres per hour and will employ a three-cable system which helps to avoid lateral rocking. There will be more than a hundred cars, each capable of holding 30 people and fitted with the latest safety devices, travelling at no more than 105 metres above the ground.The boarding point in Granada will be at the Los Cármenes stadium while the destination will be 1,500 metres higher at Pradollano, where travellers will alight to hit the slopes or simply admire the view.
The CIA 'may have' used Spanish airports secretlyBy Dave Jamieson
Spain has admitted that secret CIA flights “may have” made stops at the country’s airports. Earlier this year, Málaga airport was named in a report by the Council of Europe as one of those used by the Americans. The report accused 14 countries, including Spain, of colluding in or tolerating the clandestine transfer of terrorist suspects. It claimed that 125 CIA-related flights landed at 10 airports in Spain between 2003 and 2005.
Speaking in Brussels last Thursday, Spain’s foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, confirmed that CIA flights might have landed on the Balearic Islands but insisted that none carried prisoners. He told the European parliament that the current government, “has never authorised, nor had knowledge of operations that would involve breaking the law.” Spanish territory, he assured them is “untouched” by any illegal activity. Police investigations into the handling of the aircraft and the behaviour of their crews while in Spanish hotels is reported to have failed to uncover “any evidence” of terror suspects being held on the flights.
Sr Moratinos did, however, acknowledge that Spain could have been used as a stop-over and said that 66 CIA flights “might have” landed here. Of these, he added, two “might have” carried prisoners before or after they landed at Palma de Mallorca. A Spanish prosecutor is presently investigating these two flights.
The Minister was the first foreign minister to give evidence before a commission set up to investigate the allegations about the secret flights. He said that he would try to persuade his opposite numbers in other countries to speak out on the matter, but a Spanish MEP, Raul Romeva i Rueda of the Green Party, claimed the affair was a cover up. “I’m concerned about the credibility of the EU,” he said, adding, “What is this constant denial going to do to us?”Prime Minister Zapatero said in June that the Spanish government had no knowledge of the possible CIA use of Spanish airports as part of a secret operation for transporting suspected terrorists.
French ‘Zapatera’ visits Spanish socialistsBy David Eade
French socialist politician, Segolene Royal, who is nicknamed ‘Zapatera’ in Spain because of her political likeness to Prime Minister Zapatero, visited Madrid at the weekend. The socialist is widely tipped to be her party’s candidate in next year’s French presidential election. At her meeting with centre-left counterparts in Spain she stressed the need for southern European countries to better fight illegal immigration.At a press conference Royal stated that this had been one of the main themes at talks with Zapatero, who she met in his role as head of the Spanish Socialist party (PSOE). Spain faces massive waves of African would-be immigrants mostly to the Canary Islands and Royal stated that France, Italy and Spain, were struggling to cope with this flood of illegal immigration. She argued that the three countries were acting in a “disorganised and isolated way” when trying to help the African states the immigrants come from. She added that these European countries had to “strengthen this cooperation” and Royal said, she would raise the issue during a visit to Senegal.
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