News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week 15th February - 21st February 2007
British Fuengirola resident, 88, hit twice in six months by gas fraud
By Oliver McIntyre
FOLLOWING LAST WEEK’S COSTA DEL SOL NEWS REPORT ON FRAUDULENT GAS INSPECTORS RIPPING OFF HOMEOWNERS IN NERJA, A CDSN READER DETECTED THE SAME SCAM BEING CARRIED OUT IN FUENGIROLA.
Unfortunately, by the time Hastings native Lesley Bryan realised that her 88-year-old friend Dora Mary Smith had been swindled, the damage was already done. On Wednesday of last week Mrs Bryan, who helps Mrs Smith with housecleaning, noticed some gas-valve boxes in the elderly woman’s wastepaper bin and asked her about it. It was then that she learned Mrs Smith had been visited by supposed gas company inspectors, who had made some repairs and charged her more than 300 euros. When Mrs Smith told her the same thing had occurred about six months ago, she smelled a rat.
FINISHING THE JOB
The next day her suspicions were confirmed when she read the CDSN report and saw that the bogus company mentioned in the article, Complementos del Gas, matched the company name on Mrs Smith’s invoice. As it turned out, the information would help her save her friend from being taken for even more cash.
Perhaps sensing an easy target in the elderly Mrs Smith, the bogus gas men audaciously returned to her home on Thursday, telling her they needed to “finish the job.” Mrs Smith called Mrs Bryan and put her on the phone with one of the gas men. “I told him to get right out of the house immediately or I was going to call the police,” says Mrs Bryan. The men left, likely saving Mrs Smith further unwarranted charges.
Mrs Bryan told CDSN she was in the process of reporting the incident to the town hall and the police in the hope that doing so will help authorities track down the culprits and put an end to the long-running scam, which, as the recent reports from Nerja and Fuengirola indicate, is carried out throughout the Costa area. Taking a step further, she said she plans to contact the Spanish television programme El Buscador to see if it wants to run a story on the scam to help raise awareness among the public.
Robbery spree at chemists and hotels
One suspect caught when victim spotted him from police car
By Oliver McIntyre
TORREMOLINOS AND MÁLAGA WERE HIT WITH MULTIPLE ROBBERIES AT HOTELS AND CHEMISTS DURING THE WEEKEND AND EARLY THIS WEEK.
Two Torremolinos hotels were robbed in a two-hour period in the early morning hours of Monday, raising alarm in the sector after a month-long respite following a spate of robberies at four hotels in Benalmádena and another in Estepona.
At 01.00 on Monday morning two men disguised with wigs and scarves over their faces robbed the Riu Nautilus hotel at gunpoint, threatening the receptionist and making off with 3,000 euros. A couple of hours later, a man described as “foreign and around 40” pried open and entered through a restaurant window at the Europa hotel. When confronted by the hotel receptionist, he threatened him with a knife and stole 1,500 euros before leaving through the same window.
At a chemists shop in the town’s Avenida Salvador Allende, four eastern European men came in near closing time on Friday night and threatened the owner, her 79-year-old father and two employees at gunpoint, shoving them to the floor, before stealing 5,000 euros in cash and an estimated 12,000 euros’ worth of the victims’ personal jewellery and watches, including two Rolexes. As the owner was being taken by police to the station to file a report, she spotted one of the alleged robbers at a petrol station and the man, 27, was arrested. At the time of going to press no other arrests had been made.Between Friday and Sunday three other chemists were robbed, all in Málaga and all after hours. The thieves entered by using sewer covers from the street to smash the shop-front windows.
Vélez councillor accused of sexist remarks
By Dave Jamieson
A councillor at Vélez-Málaga town hall has been the subject of an official complaint after allegedly making sexist remarks directed at two female colleagues from an opposing political party. María Eugenia Farré and Conchi Labao say that Antonio Beltrán, the town’s public finance councillor, made the allegedly derogatory comments during a routine council session last week and have denounced him for “continuous attacks on the dignity of women.”
At the time of the alleged incident, Sra Farré asked Vélez’s mayor, Antonio Souvirón, to call Councillor Beltrán to order, which he did. However, the complainants allege that when Sr Beltrán (PSOE) “has no political arguments, something which happens continually, he reverts to chauvinistic and sexist language directed at the women of the Partido Popular.” Their formal ‘denuncia’ has been sent to a number of bodies including the Women’s Board at the Junta de Andalucía and in the Ministry of Work and Social Services.Antonio Beltrán described the situation as “ridiculous,” adding that at no time had he intended to offend. He said his comments, which he described as “colloquial phrases,” came during a “relaxed” moment in the council meeting and were “friendly” in nature. The Partido Popular, which is backing its two representatives’ complaints, has taken his words out of context, he said.
Major protest against Ronda golf courses
By David Eade
On Saturday an estimated 1,200 people protested in Ronda against the planned Los Merinos Norte golf course. The demonstration was organised by the environmental group Ecologistas en Acción and attended by their president, Juan Clavero, Izquierda Unida’s provincial coordinator, José Antonio Castro and IU Euro-MP Willy Meyer.
The demonstrators were demanding a halt to the controversial golf project, which Sr Meyer said he has reported to the European Parliament because of its alleged illegality on environmental grounds.
The demonstrators also spoke out in defence of the rights of those who have been threatened because of their opposition to the project. The Costa del Sol News recently reported on how Lord Kilmarnock and other Britons residing in the area face court action over their activities in fighting against the golf complex. There is also widespread anger in the town of Cuevas del Becerro, where residents fear the golf course and luxury residential development will drain their vital water supplies. The mayor, Isabel Teresa Rosado, stated at the demonstration, “Nobody outsider is going to come here, empty our aquifers and take away the countryside that surrounds us.”
Local ref cries foul over insults and taunting
By Oliver McIntyre
YOUTH FOOTBALL REFEREE ÁNGEL ANDRÉS JIMÉNEZ BONILLO IS ON A MISSION TO BRING GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP BACK TO THE GAME – AND TO TEACH YOUNG PEOPLE THAT THE FIRST RULE IN ANY SPORTING EVENT IS MUTUAL RESPECT BETWEEN EVERYONE INVOLVED, INCLUDING THE FANS.
Sr Jiménez, who referees youth league games in the Costa del Sol area, is laying down the law in the matches he officiates. Before the start of each game, the 29-year-old referee informs players, coaches and venue representatives that he will accept no uncivil behaviour, whether on the field or from the stands. If he hears any insults or degrading jeers against himself, players or coaches during the game, he will ask the venue representatives to help him address the situation. If that fails, he will call the police, and if the situation is still not corrected, he will call off the match.
“On the pitch I’ve got a pocketful of yellow and red cards,” Sr Jiménez told Costa del Sol News, indicating that his authority as referee gives him power to control the players. So it is mostly when fans become unruly that he has to resort to the more drastic measures. In the five games he has refereed since launching his no-insults policy in November, he has yet to have to call off a game. But in one match, between teams from Torremolinos and Málaga, he did call the police and stop the game for 13 minutes before resuming play.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Sr Jiménez, whose day job is teaching History of Religion and Spanish Language and Literature at Benalmádena’s Colegio Maravillas, hopes his actions will inspire similar measures at higher levels of sport. “If all the [premier league] referees acted together to do the same thing I’m doing, people would take notice and things might change,” he says. “As the great Martin Luther King said, ‘I have a dream’,” says the crusading referee. In his case, the dream is that one day he will “be able to go with my nephews to watch a football match and not have to be ashamed by the lack of respect shown by one group of human beings to another; because, let us not forget, referees and players are human too.”
Government announces Guadalhorce Valley property
NEWS Staff Reporter
The Development Ministry has announced plans for the expropriation of thousands of square metres of land affecting 212 rural properties in Álora, Pizarra and Cártama for the creation of service roads between the AVE train tunnels in the area. The list of affected property owners was printed in the February 7 Boletín Oficial del Estado, marking the beginning of a 15-day public-information period during which the landowners can seek further information and submit any objections. Thousands more square metres, affecting hundreds more properties, are to be expropriated in Álora, Almogía, Cártama and Málaga by the Ministry of Public Administration for the installation of 220kw and 400kw power lines to upgrade the area’s electricity network and provide power to the AVE railway. The lists of affected property owners were published in Spanish daily newspapers last Tuesday and Wednesday, opening a 20-day public-information period. The list of affected properties, as well as further information about the project and the expropriations, can be obtained at the Industry and Energy Department of the Subdelegación del Gobierno in Málaga, located in Plaza de la Aduana.
Mayor loses absolute majority in Benalmádena
Turn-coat councillors shift balance at town hall
By Oliver McIntyre
THE INTENSE POLITICAL MANOEUVRING AT BENALMÁDENA TOWN HALL CONTINUED LAST WEEK AS THE RULING GIB-BOLÍN PARTY LOST ITS ABSOLUTE MAJORITY WHEN ONE OF ITS COUNCILLORS, CARMEN VARGAS, ABANDONED THE PARTY.
Sra Vargas left her party at the same time as three Partido Popular councillors, led by Jesús Fortes, renounced their PP status and joined the non-affiliated Grupo Mixto. The mayor, Enrique Bolín, and his seven other GIB-Bolín councillors retain a simple majority and can count on the support of at least one existing Grupo Mixto councillor, Antonio Garcia.
The move by the PP councillors was not unexpected, though it came after previous statements by Sr Fortes that he and his colleagues would retain their PP affiliation despite differences with provincial party leadership. Those differences came to a head when the party named Enrique Moya, who until then had been a GIB-Bolín councillor, as the PP candidate for mayor at this May’s elections.
Now Jesús Fortes has announced that he will run for mayor at the head of a newly created party to be called Iniciativa Ciudadana por Benalmádena, seeking to steal centre-right votes away from both the PP and GIB-Bolín.
Carmen Vargas, who was number two on the GIB-Bolín candidate list at the last elections, said last week that she was “very excited about Fortes’s political project, though I still don’t know if I’ll join the party he plans to create.”
The mayor, Enrique Bolín, said last week that he was unconcerned about a simple, rather than absolute, majority between now and the elections. The situation has really not changed so much, he said, as Carmen Vargas had for some time been an outsider on the governing team, abstaining from many votes.Nonetheless, the opposition parties appear emboldened by the new landscape on the council. They have already announced plans to raise a motion calling for the creation of a commission to review all of the town hall’s property-development deals during the mayor’s current term in office.
Sierra Nava oil spillage could harm tuna campaign
NEWS Staff Reporter
The fishing crews who traditionally capture red tuna off the coast of Cádiz in major campaigns are concerned that the oil spillage from the Sierra Nava could harm their harvest. The refrigeration vessel is beached off the Estrecho National Park in Algeciras and a cleaning campaign has been underway for the past three weeks. It is hoped the vessel will be refloated this weekend.
Fishermen say the presence of the fuel in the water could affect the red tuna campaign that starts in April. They fear it could damage the environment along the route the highly-prized fish take from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. If they find the waters are polluted, the tuna will alter course and avoid the Cádiz coast fishing grounds.
The authorities have already discovered a dead dolphin and a turtle on the beach at Barbate. Also around 50 seabirds covered in oil have been found on the Lances beach in Tarifa. An investigation is now underway to determine whether the spillage came from the Sierra Nava or another source. The coastal authority has stated that it is keeping watch on the entire Cádiz zone for any oil pollution from the stranded vessel.Last weekend the Partido Popular held a demonstration against the spillage that attracted around 300 people. The secretary general of the PP, Ángel Acebes, the Andalucía secretary, Antonio Sanz, and the party’s presidents in Andalucía and Algeciras, Javier Arenas and José Ignacio Landaluce led the march from the Parque del Centenario to the beach at El Chinarral.
Private hospital in Coín to go ahead
The medical complex will include several specialised units
By Oliver McIntyre
PLANS TO CREATE A LARGE PRIVATE HOSPITAL IN COÍN APPEAR TO FINALLY BE MOVING FORWARD AFTER THE PROJECT SPENT A YEAR AND A HALF IN LIMBO DUE TO COMPLICATIONS IN ACQUIRING THE LAND WHERE IT IS TO BE BUILT.
Last week the mayor, Gabriel Clavijo, and representatives from the company behind the project, Diamar Sanitaria SL, announced that the hospital will be located on a 230,000-square-metre property near the La Trocha shopping mall.
The company estimates it will spend 90 million euros to create the complex, which is to include a 240-bed hospital, a specialised clinic for paraplegics and quadriplegics, a nursing home for the elderly, a children’s clinic and a 150-bed, four-star hotel to serve as accommodation for patients’ families. The clinic providing treatment and rehabilitation for people paralyzed by neurological diseases or back or neck injuries will be the first of its kind in Andalucía, and the second in the country, say local officials (the other is in Toledo).
COÍN RESIDENTS TO GET FREE A&E
Although the hospital will be a private facility, Coín residents will be provided free emergency-room treatment, based on an agreement between the town hall and the company. The project still needs the final green light from the Junta de Andalucía before construction can begin, but officials expect that the hospital and hotel will be completed sometime in 2008, while the nursing home and children’s clinic will be built in a second phase, with completion in 2009 or 2010.
New park marks war anniversary
By Dave Jamieson and Suzan Davenport
A NEW PARK WAS INAUGURATED LAST WEEK IN TORRE DEL MAR TO MARK THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MASSIVE FLIGHT OF REFUGEES FROM MÁLAGA TO ALMERIA DURING THE CIVIL WAR.
On February 7, 1937, around 150,000 men, women and children left the city and began to walk the 219 kilometres to Almería ahead of the imminent invasion of nationalist troops. Málaga fell the following morning when 25,000 German, Italian and Moorish troops marched in and smashed any resistance left. During the refugees’ march east, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 defenceless people died during indiscriminate bombing attacks – picked off like sitting ducks by aircraft and warships.
Many of those who survived as well as victims’ families attended the ceremony. They all have terrible stories to tell. Juan Conejero, who was 11 at the time, remembers the corpses and blood along the roadside and how his mother covered his eyes with her hand while he cried. “What most affected me was walking among the dead” he recalled.
The new park, known as the Parque de la Memoria, was formally opened on Sunday. It has been built to a design by Rogelio López Cuenca who described it as a “collaboration of disciplines which has produced something different from the traditional role of a monument”. The park has seating for those who simply wish to spend a quiet moment and is populated with plants from the region, especially almond trees. In addition, a plaque bears the signatures of some 400 survivors of the flight seven decades ago.To mark the special nature of this year’s anniversary, over 200 marchers set out from Nerja at 07.00 to walk to Torre del Mar where they arrived in time for the park’s inauguration ceremony at 11.30.
Diver recovers Roman statue off Tarifa
The figure is of great archaeological interest
By David Eade
OFFICERS OF THE TARIFA GUARDIA CIVIL NATURE PROTECTION SERVICE WORKING WITH A MEMBER OF THE TARIFA DIVING SCHOOL HAVE RECOVERED A BRONZE ROMAN STATUE FROM ROCKS OFF LAS PALOMAS ISLAND.
The piece measures 22 centimetres in height and seven centimetres in width and shows a woman dressed in a long tunic.
The statue was taken to the Baelo Claudia Roman site offices where it was studied and dated by the director as being from between the first and third centuries AD during the Roman era. According to his expert interpretation the figure could possibly represent a divinity and is of great archaeological interest.
The Guardia Civil have stressed the importance of not taking any artefacts out of the sea as there is a danger of such pieces suffering rapid deterioration once they are removed from the water. It is imperative that the Guardia Civil are told about any finds so that experts can raise the objects.
CRACK DOWN ON MAJOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL GANG
Elsewhere the Guardia Civil have broken up a major network that peddled archaeological remains. Officers also recovered more than 300,000 pieces, said to be of enormous historical value, which had been taken from various historical sites in Spain. Fifty-two people have been arrested in Madrid, Barcelona and Andalucía, including three in Cádiz - two collectors who reside in El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar as well as a person based in Jerez, who is said to have sold some of the pieces. All have been released on bail but have to appear again before the courts on February 21 and 23. The regional government’s councillor for culture, Rosa Torres, praised the Guardia Civil for their work in these arrests. She said the success was based on co-operation between the force and other State security organisations as well as with the regional government and the ministry of culture.
Madrid terror suspects go on trial
More than 650 witnesses will give testimony
By Oliver McIntyre
TODAY MARKS THE BEGINNING OF WHAT IS ARGUABLY THE GREATEST TRIAL IN SPAIN’S HISTORY AS 29 SUSPECTED ISLAMIST TERRORISTS STAND BEFORE THE COURT FOR THEIR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT IN THE MARCH 11, 2004, MADRID TRAIN BOMBINGS THAT LEFT 191 PEOPLE DEAD AND 1,824 WOUNDED.
The suspects, allegedly members of a cell either directly associated with or inspired by Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist organisation, face a combined total of 270,875 years in jail for what is considered Spain’s worst ever terrorist attack. Seven of them, three considered the organisers of the attack, three alleged to be among the group that carried it out, and one a common Spanish criminal who allegedly supplied the stolen Goma 2 explosive used in the bombings, face 38,654 years in prison each.
Seven other alleged bombers were killed when they blew themselves up in a flat in Leganés, Madrid, after being trapped by Spanish police and security forces several weeks after the train bombings. The explosion also killed a Spanish special forces officer, who in Spain is considered the 192nd fatal victim of the 11-M attack. Four additional suspected bombers remain at large. The three men accused of masterminding and setting the date of the attacks – three days before Spain’s general elections – are Youssef Belhadj, considered Al Qaeda’s military boss in Europe; Hassan el Haski, the European military boss of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group; and Rabei Osman el Sayed, known as El Egipcio (The Egyptian), and described as a veteran terrorist who allegedly organised cells in Spain, France and Italy. The three men on trial for carrying out the bombings are Jamal Zougam and Abdelmajid Bouchar, both Moroccan, and Basel Ghalyoun, from Syria. The Spaniard accused of supplying the explosives is José Emilio Suárez Trashorras.
Snowy’s airport adventure ends happily
NEWS Staff Reporter
Snowy, a year-old Jack Russell terrier owned by a young British couple, was rescued earlier this week after living rough for 11 days at Madrid’s Barajas airport.
The dog was lost from an Iberia airlines flight, leaving its owners, Marilyn Duce and her boyfriend Harry, distressed and determined to track him down. They were even reported to have offered a 10,000-euro reward, though they later revised that to “an amount still to be determined.”
Iberia brought in animal-rescue group El Refugio to help airline staff, airport workers and Guardia Civil officers search for the missing dog. It was soon established that Snowy was alive and well, roaming the airport and scampering through the tunnels beneath the runways. Initial attempts to catch him proved unsuccessful and El Refugio volunteers considered using a trap or even a tranquiliser dart. Ultimately neither tactic was necessary, as volunteers finally caught the dog on Sunday, huddled in what had apparently become one of his favourite spots, a small dry streambed at the head of runway 33L, directly beneath the flight path of landing planes. He was described as in good condition but suffering some “anxiety.”At press time there had been no indication of whether Snowy’s owners paid any reward.