News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week 30th August - 6th September 2007
SPAIN BIDS FAREWELL TO PUERTA
By M. Bernard
Antonio Puerta, one of Sevilla CF's star players died at 14.30 on Tuesday. The 22-year-old footballer collapsed during the game against Getafe last Saturday but was revived on the pitch and was able to walk off. Unfortunately he suffered another heart attack in the dressing room and was rushed to hospital. Sadly Antonio suffered five more cardio respiratory attacks, over the next two days, from which he never fully recovered. His first child is due in September. The Costa del Sol News and all football supporters offer our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Antonio Puerta and also to Sevilla CF who was a big part of his life.
MURDER IN MARBELLA
Estonian shot dead in similar slaying of Londoner last year
By David Eade
AN ESTONIAN NATIONAL, aged 35 and named only as K.K., was shot dead on Sunday evening as he sat on the terrace of the Point Bar in Nueva Andalucía in Marbella. Police sources say he had lived in the area for some time and had no criminal record.
The murder took place shortly after 19.00 when a motorbike stopped outside the bar in Avenida del Prado. The passenger approached the victim from behind and, without speaking, shot him at point blank range in the back of the neck before escaping with his comp-anion. Both wore crash helmets making it im-possible for witnesses to identify them.
Police and an ambulance crew were called to the scene but the man was already dead. The area was immediately cordoned off to traffic to nearby residential urbanisations for around two hours afterwards.
The victim owned a sauna business in Marbella and police have sent finger prints back to Estonia to confirm his identity and have enquired whether he had a police record in his home country. It is understood that investigators are treating the matter as a possible "settling of accounts" between criminals due to the 'modus operandi' of such killings. There were less than a dozen people in the bar at the time including two Britons. One had his two-year-old son with him who witnessed the killing.
Second fatal shooting at bar
Sunday's slaying was the second murder to take place at the Point Bar in just over a year. Last July a Briton, 43-year-old William Moy from London, was also shot dead in a separate incident that police also described as a "settling of accounts" between criminals. Unlike the Estonian he did have a criminal record.
Former Benalmádena police chief accused
Former Benalmádena police chief accused
By David Eade and Suzan Davenport
FORMER LOCAL POLICE CHIEF in Benalmádena, Lázaro Bañasco, was arrested by the Guardia Civil on Monday afternoon, accused of allegedly misappropriating vehicles. He was charged and released later the same day.
Sr Bañasco had been head of the local force since 1996 but was relieved of his duties as chief by Benalmádena's new mayor, Javier Carnero, just two weeks ago. Sr. Carnero said that decision had been a political one and had nothing to do with the two-year police investigation that was being carried out by a Torremolinos court. However, on Tuesday in a precautionary move, the mayor suspended Lázaro Bañasco without pay until judicial procedures clarify his situation.
The case centres on several vehicles that were removed from Benalmádena's streets after allegedly being abandoned. These vehicles, between three and six depending on different sources, were handed over to the local police and then held in the municipal car pound.
After a lengthy period of time the cars were sent to auction by the town hall to recuperate the costs they had incurred. However it is understood that the cars had high minimum bid prices and were not sold. Instead they passed to the town hall for municipal use.
The Guardia Civil searched several offices at Benalmádena town hall on Monday and seized documentation relating to the vehicles involved. Officers are also investigating whether the vehicles were removed without their owners' knowledge and then kept by the local force. Police sources say they are not ruling out further detentions.Last week the GIB Bolín party, now in opposition, complained about the removal of Bañasco's responsibilities and on Monday, GIB Bolin party spokesman, Manuel Crespo defended Sr Bañasco's "impeccable service record" saying that in 30 years Bañasco's conduct had been irreproachable. Former mayor Enrique Bolin has also defended him, calling Lázaro Bañasco an honourable person.
Álora sweets seller arrested for molesting girls
By Oliver McIntyre
A 64-YEAR-OLD Álora sweets shop owner has been arrested for alleged sexual assaults on at least eight girls aged eight to 12. The man, who is well known in the town and in addition to running the sweets shop is a local radio personality, was picked up on Tuesday after the parents of two of the victims filed police complaints on Monday night.
Guardia Civil officials said the man, E.C., married and with two grown children, plied his young victims with free candy before groping them inside the sweets shop, located in Calle Veracruz. He allegedly touched the girls inappropriately on multiple occasions. At least one of the victims is reportedly receiving psychological counselling to deal with the traumatic experience.The mayor of Álora, José Sánchez Moreno, said the arrest came as a complete surprise and that there had been no previous complaints against the sweets shop operator to the local police or social services. At the time of going to press the investigation was still open as the Guardia Civil attempted to identify any potential additional victims.
Nazi apologist arrested in Benalmádena
The writer is wanted in Austria for denying the Jewish holocaust
By David Eade
POLICE have arrested in Benalmádena the alleged Nazi apologist, Gerd Honsik, who is wanted in Austria for denying the Jewish holocaust. The seizure was made on a European find and capture warrant and was carried out by the National Police fugitives squad working with the organised crime unit on the Costa del Sol.
Vienna born Honsik who is 65-years-old was detained last Thursday at 14.20 at his Benalmádena home. He is wanted for actions he carried out in his native Austria between 1986 and 1989 when he distributed publications in Vienna that denied the Jewish holocaust.
This printed material said that groups of Jews were not exterminated by the Third Reich at concentrations camps. He expressed his views in his book 'Absolution of Hitler' and in the magazine 'Halt'. In them he denied that the gas chambers existed and said the chimeys of the supposed gas chambers at Auschwitz where actually on the roof of a single storey house. Honsik was found guilty in 1992 by a court in Vienna and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Instead of serving the sentence he fled to Spain where he has reafirmed his belief that the Nazi regime did not use gas chambers against the Jews.
Political refugee status refused
The Spanish High Court had previously dismissed a petition from Honsik that he should be considered a political refugee in Spain. This ruling was later ratified by the country's Supreme Court.Honsik, or Don Gerardo to his neighbours, has lived for many years on an urbanisation below Benalmádena pueblo close to the Budhist temple. They were shocked when police cars arrived to take him away. He was described as friendly, educated, an excellent neighbour and one resident stated he was not even aware that Honsik was a writer let alone a Nazi apologist.
Angry boar goes wild in Torrox
NEWS Staff Reporter
THE AXARQUÍA region is quite used to seeing wild animals roaming free. In Nerja it is not unusual to see wild boar on the streets at night but in Torrox on Sunday a large beast caused quite a stir as it ran free along the Ferrara prom. The animal was first spotted at around 11.00 and local police were alerted. The chase went on for three hours and resulted in a police officer being injured in the foot before the boar was killed by the Guardia Civil.
The boar had suffered an injury which made it extremely aggressive. It was attempting to return to its natural habitat in the Sierra de Tejeda, Alhama and Almijara but raced through Torrox with the police in hot pursuit.Not only did the boar run along the prom but it also visited the grounds of the Hotel Riu where it caused panic among the guests. From there it travelled along the A-7 (former N-340) to the Cenicero beach. It was here that the Guardia Civil stepped forward and an officer put the creature out of its misery with a rifle shot.
Families test kids for drugs
Parents can carry out the test without children knowing
By Dave Jamieson
By David Eade
OVER 1,500 parents in Málaga province have visited their pharmacy in the past year to buy a drug test kit. In just three minutes the test will show whether their child has consumed drugs. Children need not even be aware that their parents are checking up on them, as the kit works on the youngster's clothing.
In Andalucía 6,500 of these kits have been sold and Málaga is the third highest user after Cádiz and Sevilla. The kit known as the 'ari-farm-test' came on to the market in 2002. Since then sales have increased by 15 to 20 per cent. The maker says that sales have risen as more and more parents have become aware of the kits existence and are buying it.
The kit costs around 60 euros and allows parents to test the clothes their son or daughter was wearing that day to find out whether they have been in contact with drugs. Within three minutes parents will know if their child has taken amphe-tamines, cocaine, cannabis or other drugs. Lab check recommended If the test should prove positive then a professional laboratory check is recommended to confirm the result. The manufacturer says that the interest in the product does not indicate that drug use among children is on the increase, only that parents want to know if their offspring is using them.
Freak storms hit the coast
By David Eade
Meteorological services gave no warning
LAST WEDNESDAY was the height of the August holiday month on the Costa del Sol when sun is the order of the day. So the deluge that struck between 11.00 and 15.00 was, to say the least, unexpected - as were the floods that followed it.
Worst hit was Fuengirola with 52 litres per square metre recorded and 39 of those fell in just an hour. Mijas fared little better with 50 litres per square metre and while Torremolinos only had 46, 43 of those litres swamped the town in just 30 minutes. Further along the coast, in Marbella, 31 litres was recorded and again a deluge of 25 litres fell in 60 minutes. Inland the effects of the rain were less severe, Ojén reported just nine litres and while Ronda and the Serranía were cloudly with the odd rumble of thunder, there was no major rainfall.
Not surprisingly the deluge caused chaos in its wake. The Fuengirola and Mijas by-pass had tailbacks stretching 17 kilometres. The road to Coín was cut and industrial warehouses and garages flooded. At the Mijas Aquapark the water was over knee-deep in the car park, flooding vehicles and causing car owners to despair. The fire brigade was called out to rescue 15 people at different locations in the town. La Vega industrial park also suffered badly.
While the situation was unusual it was explainable say meteorologists. Storms like this are caused by a drop in temperatures at a high altitude while the air below remains hot with the result that the cold air drops and the warm air rises causing ideal conditions for clouds and heavy rainfall.
Mayor of Mijas takes action
Mijas residents have demanded municipal action to ensure that flooding doesn't occur again in the future. Mayor Sánchez visited the inundated areas, including the urbanisations of Molino de Viento and Cerros de Águila plus the Camino de Coín, El Juncal, El Coto and streets in Las Lagunas, to assess the damage first hand.He promised that emergency measures would be taken to ensure that flooding didn't happen again. These will include the improvement of the drainage system at Molino de Viento and the construction of walls to hold back flood waters in the affected areas. However a municipal spokesperson stated that while action would be taken, the deluge had been a meteorological phenomenon which was difficult to predict or prevent.
Granada village votes to remain mobile-free
By Dave Jamieson
THE GRANADA VILLAGE of Los Villares has achieved something many people dream of: a community free of mobile telephones. A referendum was called to find out if the village, which cannot receive an adequate signal for using a mobile, wanted to have a transmitting mast erected locally to provide coverage. One hundred and two of the 120 inhabitants were eligible to participate in the referendum which was held last Thursday at the village's Cultural Centre, but in the end, a single vote decided the issue. Thirty-seven voted "Yes" but 38 voted "No." As a result, the village of Los Villares, about 30 kilometres from the city of Granada, is mobile-free.
As the result was announced, the "No" lobby clapped and shouted, "We remain without mobiles!" while the "Yes" lobby folded their arms in resignation. Local mayor José González Rodríguez was disappointed at the outcome which follow claims of dangers to health if it a mast were to be erected. "If it causes cancer," he asked, "why are they installed all over Spain?"
However, the mayor of neighbouring La Peza was not to be outdone. Celia Santiago said on Friday that, while the result of the referendum would be respected, a compromise would be reached. Instead of erecting the mast in the middle of the village as planned, a meeting with Telefónica would be held to find a site outside the village. The referendum is believed to be the first of its kind and was being keenly watched by the telecoms sector. Telefónica has plans to install masts in 4,000 similar villages around the country.
Fake designer label sales networks hit again
Police confiscated goods worth half a million euros
By David Eade
THE NATIONAL POLICE have struck for the third time this summer against networks that sell fake designer goods at markets on the Costa del Sol. The latest clamp down was in Fuengirola at the Mercadillo de la Mezquita last Sunday when the National force working with local officers inspected several stands. At 20 of them they found various brands of bogus designer items.
In three hours the officers confiscated over 10,000 items that bore designer labels that were said to be imitations of high quality clothes and shoes. Experts valued the seized items as being worth around 500,000 euros.
So far 19 people have been arrested, two of them Senegalese men. The network is said to be a pyramid made up of manufacturers and sellers and the two Sengal nationals are believed to be near the top of the organisation.
World famous brand names
The brand names are world famous with sports shoes purporting to come from Nike and Adidas, while fashion clothes are labelled as Lacoste, Ralph Lauren and Burberry - but all are fake.The week before the National Police operation, the Guardia Civil also confiscated around 2,000 items in Fuengirola including glasses, bags, watches and belts that are said to be copies of prestigious brands.
Urgent call for blood brings in the pints
Population responds but reserves are still desperately low
By David Eade and Suzan Davenport
MALAGA'S central blood transfusion centre's (CRTS) supplies got so low last week that it held only enough to cover a day's demand. The drastic situation led to the centre making an urgent call for people to come forward to donate blood.
And came they did. By last Friday, two days after the emergency call went out, over 800 people along the coast and in the city donated blood only slightly relieving a situation that had become so bad that there was no guarantee of maintaining supplies to the province's hospitals. More donations are still needed. On an average day around 200 bags of blood are donated in Málaga. The minimum held in the system for emergencies is 500 bags. When numbers drops below this level, as they did last week, then an emergency situation exists.
The sudden drop in supplies is thought to have been caused by an abrupt decline in donations over the Málaga fair period earlier this month. Now the fair is over it is hoped that numbers will increase but August is traditionally a difficult month when regular donors go on holiday and demand for transfusions rises with the increased number of visitors to the coast.
'Blood buses' visit Torremolinos and Nerja
The CRTS has a permanent unit at the Hospital Civil in Málaga that is open from 9.00 to 21.00 Monday to Friday and on Saturday from 9.00 to 14.00. There are also mobile transfusion units that travel around Málaga city and throughout towns in the province, making it easier for residents to donate. A transfusion bus will be in Torremolinos today from 10.00-14.00 by the town hall and tomorrow, Friday, at the Buen Consejo church from 18.00-22.00. In Nerja, a mobile unit will be taking donations on Friday by the El Salvador church from 10.00-14.00 and 18.00-22.00. Please note that anyone who has lived in the United Kingdom for a year or more between 1980 and 1996 cannot donate blood due to the outbreak of Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease in the UK.
Brenan's house in ruins
Thieves have filched all valuable fixtures
By Suzan Davenport
BRITISH WRITER Gerald Brenan would hardly recognise his old Churriana home today. It has been almost continuously ignored by municipal authorities ever since he moved inland to Alhaurin el Grande in 1969. Its fixtures and fittings disappearing gradually over the years thanks to those people fond of taking what's not theirs.
It is hard to imagine that this is the same property the town hall of Málaga proudly announced almost a decade ago, in 1998, that it was going to restore. After that short limelight-moment the house disappeared back into the gloomy depths of bureaucratic amnesia only to reappear briefly in the public eye when news broke in 2003 that the town hall had expropriated the villa after adjoining buildings encroached on 250 square metres of its land.
Sadly though, the filching of smaller parts went on. Even the large wrought-iron gates that presided over the main entrance to the house, now bricked up, were taken.
The situation may well have continued to deteriorate had thieves not removed the 100-year-old effigy of the Virgen del Rocio from the house's front façade, finally pushing Churriana residents into denouncing the situation.
The Virgen, a popular religious stopping point for large numbers of devout locals, had never been moved from the villa, not even during the Spanish Civil War when the 'Reds' destroyed almost any religious symbol they could get their hands on. Nobody moved the Virgen, that was, until a few weeks ago. The house is a listed buildingNow neighbours are demanding that the town hall take action to not only recover the image, but to restore the property, catalogued as a listed building, before it becomes a total ruin. The restoration project was one of Mayor de la Torre's electoral promises. He wanted the house, which had seen the likes of Bertrand Russell and Ernest Hemingway, to become a museum dedicated to 19th century Spain.
ETA car bomb attack was meant to massacre
100 kilos of explosive was left outside Guardia Civil barracks
By David Eade
JUST 79 DAYS after the Basque terror group ETA ended its cease fire the organisation has attempted to massacre Guardia Civil officers at their barracks at Durango in Vizcaya.
The bomb in a van ignited at 03.30 on Friday morning but in the event only two Guardia Civil who were on security duty were lightly injured. The blast caused extensive damage to the barracks destroying 16 residences, various offices as well as 10 four-wheel drive patrol vehicles.
There is no doubt that the terror group intended the attack to be a massacre. The van was packed with 100 kilos of explosive and was parked just minutes before it exploded by an outside wall of the complex.
The vehicle, a Citröen C15, had a San Sebastian number plate and had been recently stolen in the Basque village of Gatika. Another car, a Seat Ibiza, hired in Portugal but not returned was also active in the area and it is believed it may have been used to set off the explosion. It was found an hour after the explosion some 12 kilometres away burnt out in a parking zone. Investigators believe four people were involved in the attack.The Guardia Civil were alerted by the officer who was controlling the security cameras at the barracks. Those stationed at Durango are used to ETA attacks as this was the sixth in the last nine years. The explosion came just hours after the Ministry of the Interior warned that such an attack was imminent.
The Straits is one of the most difficult frontiers
NEWS Staff Reporter
A STUDY by the Institute for Peace in Oslo reports that the Strait of Gibraltar is one of the most vulnerable and difficult frontiers in the world to control. Indeed experts say that it is even more so than that between the USA and Mexico, because the difference in wealth between Spain and Morocco is six to one whereas in America it is just four to one.
One of the major problems is that the Straits is a sea frontier and is more difficult to patrol. Spain has invested heavily in the SIVE electronic surveillance system but the report says the cost of that hi-tech operation is 1,800 euros for every immigrant intercepted.
The report by Jorgen Carling is entitled "The merits and limitations of controlling the frontiers of high technology in Spain" and has now been published on the Institute's website.Carling praises the excellence of the SIVE system that was installed in the Straits' waters in 1999 and has since been extended throughout the Andalucian coastline and in the Canary Islands. However the SIVE system has cost Spain 150 million euros to install and operate, between 1999 and 2004, and the Institute questions the financial outlay compared with the number of immigrants it catches.
Foreign residents increase five fold in ten years
Britons top foreigners' list
By David Eade
THE NUMBER OF foreign residents registered at their local town halls as residents in the province of Cádiz has increased five fold in the past ten years. This fact emerged from the latest study issued by the National Institute of Statistics (INE).
At the start of this year the province had 36,726 foreign residents officially living here whereas at the start of 1998 that figure was only 7,381. Not only has that total grown year by year but so has the percentage increase each year from just 0.66 in 1998 to 3.04 at the start of 2007.
Despite the steady increase in numbers there are still 20 provinces ahead of Cádiz in the league table of foreign residents. Perhaps not surprisingly Madrid and Barcelona top the list with 854,232 and 664,403 respectively and Málaga has 217,784 registered foreigners. Indeed Cádiz is fifth in Andalucía as Almería, Sevilla and Granada also have more.
In the 44 municipalities that make up Cádiz province the British top the foreign residents list overall with 6,775. The Brits are followed by Moroccans and Bolivians with 5,769 and 3,279 respectively, then come Germans, Rumanians, French, Italians, Argentineans and Colombians with between 2,000 and 1,000 people.
The most favoured areas for foreign residents are the coastal zones where large foreign resident populations can be found in urbanisations such as Sotogrande (San Roque) and Novo Sancti Petri (Chiclana). Tarifa, La Janda and El Puerto de Santa María have also all proved popular. In the Campo de Gibraltar, the area closest to the Costa del Sol, 13,310 or a third of the official foreign population in Cádiz reside. Algeciras tops this list with 5,021, followed by La Línea (2,725), San Roque (2,381), Tarifa (1,054), Jimena (1,022), Los Barrios (943) and Castellar (164). Europeans make up 6,278 of this total, North Africans 4,217 and South Americans are in third place.