Costa del Sol News - 24rd July 2008

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive

In association with

The Costa del Sol weekly newspaper, on sale at newsagents.

Week 24rd July - 30th July 2008


Costa del Sol News's Dave Jamieson (second left) with Costa Animal Society volunteers and helpers at the animal rescue charity's Scruffs 2008 fundraising dog show in Nerja last weekend which raised over 4,000 euros. The Costa del Sol News was proud to sponsor the Fancy Dress class which was won by Isabella, owned by Rose. Both looked lovely in their flamenco gear.

Man faces three years for shooting teen's eye out

The victim has lost his vision in the affected eye

By Dave Jamieson

A man who shot a pellet gun from a car and left a 17-year-old boy blind in one eye faces three years in prison and a 90,000-euro restitution payment if found guilty.

According to the prosecutor's case summary, the incident occurred in Alhaurín de la Torre at around 2pm on May 29, 2007, when the accused, ''driving an Opel Calibra, pulled out an air pistol and shot it, failing to observe due caution and causing the pellet to hit a 17-year-old minor in the eye.''

The victim required surgery and lost his vision in the affected eye. In addition, he was left with ''a significant diminishment in the size of this eye with respect to the right eye, causing moderate aesthetic damage,'' according to the prosecutor. Further, the victim suffers ''low-intensity depression'' as a result of the incident.
The accused faces a charge of negligence causing injury.

The use of pellet or BB guns in public areas is against the law but there have been a number of similar cases in the Costa region in recent months. In March a teenager was picked up in police in Málaga city after allegedly firing an air pistol at a building near Parque del Norte. Just weeks before that, in the Camino San Rafael zone of the city, an unknown 'sniper' with a pellet gun hit a woman pedestrian and a local police officer who was directing traffic. In December of last year a youth was arrested in Marbella after for allegedly shooting an air rifle at two people riding on a motorbike.

Suspected ETA terrorist arrested in Fuengirola

Police found maps of the Costa del Sol in Bilbao flat

By David Eade

Suspected ETA terrorist, Libe Agirre Mazaga, was arrested in Fuengirola on Tuesday morning as part of a nationwide Guardia Civil operation against ETA's 'Comando Bizkaia'.

The 33-year-old was one of nine people rounded up following a series of early morning raids largely in the Vizcaya region. She is the partner of another suspect arrested in the swoop, Gaizka Jareño, who was detained in the Basque country.
Libe Agirre Mazaga, who was seized as she left a Fuengirola shop by officers from Sevilla, is suspected of being a key member of the ETA group also known as the 'Comando Vizcaya', which according to the Spanish Home Office has been the most active since the ceasefire breakdown in June of last year.

Amongst those arrested was the alleged group leader Arkaitz Goikoetxea. Under his command this group has been blamed for the killing of Juan Manuel Piñuela, a Guardia Civil officer, following the explosion of a bomb in a van outside the Legutiano barracks in Ávala on May 14. Piñuela was born in Melilla but he and his family were resident in Málaga.

The group has also been credited with bomb attacks on the Guardia Civil barracks in Durango and Calahorra in La Rioja, the National Police stations in Ertzaintza and Gipuzkoa, courts in Getxo and Sestao as well as socialist party offices in La Peña, in Bilbao and Balmaseda.

It is also believed that various members of this group were responsible for last Sunday's small bomb explosions in Cantabria that sent hundreds of people fleeing for safety.

Hours after the arrests took place the Minister of the Interior, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba congratulated the Guardia Civil on their ''excellent work'' and described the ETA group as currently ''the most active''. Although the Guardia Civil and Basque political groups aligned to ETA have described the Vizcaya group as a „commando„ the minister said he preferred the term ''complex''.

There had been speculation that given that Libre Agirre Mazaga and Aitor Kotano Sindé, another of those arrested outside of the Vizcaya area, could have been involved in setting up units on the Costa del Sol and Galicia. Maps of Andalucía, the Costa del Sol and Lisbon were found in the raids but it is believed Agirre Mazaga was in Fuengirola on holiday. At his press briefing Rubalcaba stressed that the police authorities did not believe that new cells were being created.

uengirola has been a terrorist target in the past. The last time it was subjected to an ETA attack was on June 21, 2002 when a car bomb exploded close to Las Pirámedes hotel, injuring six people, including British tourists. Fuengirola's mayor, Esperanza Oña, has also been an ETA target.

The leader of the Partido Popular, who is a fierce critic of ETA, Mariano Rajoy stated: ''Today's operation has been an unqualified success and we send our congratulations and support to the government.'' The leader of the Vasco Nationalist Party (PNV), Andonio Ortuzar, said in a radio interview that the arrests were ''very satisfying''.

Estepona elects a new mayor

Residents march demanding elections

By David Eade

Estepona has a new mayor. Last Thursday the council elected the socialist David Valadez to the post just a month after his predecessor Antonio Barrientos was arrested in the 'Astapa' town planning scandal.

Valadez, a trained journalist, had previously been the councillor responsible for Estepona's social services. It is perhaps fitting that he should replace the disgraced Barrientos as he was a stern critic of the former mayor's management of the municipality.

The new mayor was elected with the support of his own PSOE party as well as the councillors of the Partido Andalucista, the IU and Estepona 2007 all of which are coalition partners. Adding their votes too were Rafael Montesinos the former PA councillor who is now implicated in the case and Francisco Zamorano who has provisionally been expelled from PSOE as he too is involved in the 'Astapa' investigation.

The PES councillors, whose party is also heavily involved in 'Astapa', abstained while the Partido Popular, which is demanding fresh elections, voted against Valadez's appointment.

This call for fresh elections comes after the judge in the 'Astapa' case, Isabel Conejo, ruled that Rafael Montesinos, who until last week was the 'alcalde accidental', should be investigated for alleged money laundering and bribery. He has stood down to clear his name. Montesinos made some major decisions on the repeal of the IBI tax hike that caused outrage and protests over recent months in Estepona.

Last Friday evening some 500 people marched through Estepona demanding elections be held now and condemning the town planning corruption that has gripped the municipality. The organisers - La Plataforma de Asociaciones de Vecinos - stated that they have a degree of confidence in new mayor David Valadez but still insisted that the best course for Estepona was new elections. With Valadez receiving the votes of two councillors involved in the 'Astapa' case to gain his post one can sympathise with the argument that Estepona needs a new political start.

Teen dating website warning

Paedophiles are trawling summer romance websites

By David Eade

Parents with children have been warned to stop them using a teen dating website because of fears that it could be attracting sex offenders. The NSPCC issued the alert after a BBC Radio One investigation. Although the site is UK based it is feared that British children on the Costa del Sol may also be accessing it.

The BBC investigation found that adults, some as old as 60, had registered on the same website that attracts thousands of children looking for a date. The NSPCC children's charity has now reported to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

The NSPCC says it found pictures of teenagers posing in only their underwear. The charity said it also found evidence of adults asking children for mobile numbers and personal details on the unregulated site.

Zoe Hilton, NSPCC's policy adviser, stated: ''Teen dating sites attract youngsters looking for an innocent summer romance over the holidays. We are extremely concerned that teenagers are giving out their photos and personal details on these sites in the search for a boyfriend or girlfriend. They may be unaware that adult sex offenders are around looking for a child to groom.''

She warned: '' could be a sex offender's playground. Unless it improves security and properly moderates users, children should steer well clear of it.''

The NSPCC has issued a series of guidelines that parents should be aware of and it urges them to talk to their children about the subject. These guidelines include using an online nickname instead of your real name in chat rooms and never giving out personal information such as addresses, telephone numbers, school name or information about clubs they go to. In addition photos should never be sent to strangers; do remember that people online might not be who they say they are and stop any conversation that makes you suspicious or uncomfortable.

The CEOP at its web has the latest information on websites and new technology. It offers advice to young people on what's good and what's not - and perhaps most importantly, what they can do about it. It also has a section giving advice to parents.

Call for tougher treatment for abandoning animals

New survey shows a huge majority of people are in favour of stiffer penalties

By Dave Jamieson

A new survey shows that a huge majority of people in Málaga are in favour of tougher penalties for anyone abandoning an animal. Two out of five people questioned said they knew at least one person who had dumped an unwanted animal.

The study, carried our by the veterinary company Intervet and published last week, shows that 95 per cent of those questioned thought that the present laws are insufficient and that the government should unify the various community regulations on animal abandonment and cruelty. It seems clear that public opinion believes that existing legislation treats offenders too leniently. Ninety per cent thought anyone abandoning an animal should be sent to prison, while 96 per cent thought those found guilty of maltreatment should have their names listed in public to act as a deterrent, and to protect the rights of animals.

A pet is treated as a member of the family in 87 per cent of Málaga homes, the survey said, and receives the same care and attention as everyone else.

owever, 53 per cent said they would want rid of the animal if it was aggressive or dangerous, while 42 per cent said they would take a similar course of action if they could not properly control their pets.

A remarkable 40 per cent of the respondents said that they knew at least one person who had abandoned an unwanted pet or litter. But 38 per cent said that if they came across a stray animal on the street they would adopt it, 26 per cent said they would call the police or a kennels, while 15 per cent admitted they would not know what to do.

Costa arrests in major anti-fraud operation

The 'Jade-Limusina' investigation started in April

By David Eade

Over 70 Spanish nationals have been arrested in a major investigation into tax and fiscal fraud involving a bank in Liechtenstein. Four of the detentions were in Marbella, Fuengirola, Torremolinos and Benalmádena and officers have also visited a private bank located in Nueva Andalucía.

According to official sources some 200 million euros is thought to have been involved in the fraud. The 'Jade-Limusina' investigation started in April when the Tax Agency presented the anti-corruption prosecutor with a report indicating that 198 people could be involved in tax evasion. These were all resident in Spain and are thought to have had dealings with the Liechtenstein Global Trust (LGT).

This is an international case and started off in Germany where some 1,000 people are though to be involved. As it developed it saw the tax authorities in Spain working with colleagues in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, the UK and USA. All these countries had instances of their nationals using the same bank to allegedly avoid paying tax to the authorities.

The case in Spain was placed under the wing of the Audiencia Nacional judge Santiago Pedraz who ordered investigations by the tax authority's own team and the anti-corruption squad of the Guardia Civil. This led to raids on around 20 companies and business advisors in Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga and Zaragoza.
The situation of the Nueva Andalucía private bank is not clear. It is believed that the Guardia Civil were at the bank interviewing officials for an hour but no arrests appear to have been made. It is also understood that the same bank could be involved in the German arm of this investigation.

LGT is not only caught up in this fraud investigation. Last week in the USA a hearing of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) of the US Senate also cast doubt on the bank's operations. In a statement LGT Group asserted that: ''it has always conducted its business in accordance with the applicable legal and regulatory provisions. The data under investigation by the PSI - which is based on the data stolen from LGT Treuhand in 2002 and goes back to the 1970s - is from a time when different regulations applied and when there was no Qualified Intermediary (QI) agreement in place. The specific cases mentioned in the subcommittee's report are dated and do not in any way reflect LGT's current business practices.'' Obviously following the wave of arrests in Spain and the parallel investigations in the USA the bank will once again be under the spotlight.

Water misery spreads in the Axarquía

Arenas is now on a restricted service for 14 hours a day

By Dave Jamieson

The effects of the drought are spreading in parts of the Axarquía. Restrictions are now in place in more towns while some country areas are completely dry.

Residents of Colmenar are already dependent on water brought in on special lorries (CDSN last week) with supplies cut overnight. However, Arenas is now on a restricted service for 14 hours a day while an estimated 2,000 residents in the countryside around Cómpeta have had no supplies for some days. Riogordo has also introduced cuts to supplies between midnight and 7 am every day to guarantee adequate supplies at reasonable pressure during daytime, and 70 families in the Buenaventura area of Casabermeja have endured more than a month with drinking water supplies.

The mayor of Arenas, Basilia Pareja, said the situation was worsening year by year. ''We suffer restrictions every summer,'' she said, ''but the situation gets more complicated every time, partly because less water reaches us each time.'' The only water supply is in Canillas de Aceituno and that is shared three ways with Sayalonga. The problem is arising, the mayor explained, because there are more houses being built around Canillas, many with swimming pools, and water is only provided to Arenas when the Canillas water deposits are full. She called for Arenas to be connected to the network of pipes which brings water from La Viñuela reservoir.

Competa's well runs dry

In Cómpeta, mayor José Luis Torres said that problems there resulted from the drying-up of one of the two wells supplying the town. The Andaluz water agency has authorised the town hall to open a new well, although the mayor is not certain that this will help.

Important Sorolla exhibition visits Málaga

Fourteen immense panels are on show until September 21

By Dave Jamieson

Works by the Valencian artist Sorolla have gone on display in Málaga. A travelling exhibition of 14 murals depicting everyday life in Spain opened at the city's Contemporary Art Centre last Saturday.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida was born in 1863 and specialised in monumental works with social and historical themes. In 1911, he visited Paris where he met American millionaire, Archer M. Huntington, who commissioned the artist to produce a series of oil paintings depicting life in Spain. The 14 canvases were to be hung in the Hispanic Society of America in New York and work on them came to dominate the later years of Sorolla's life.

The collection is known as The Provinces of Spain and each canvas is so large that Sorolla painted all but one in the open air, travelling to specific locations to create them. Local people in traditional costume were brought in as models while the artist captured the landscapes and culture of the region. Each is named after an area of Spain and they include Andalucía, Sevilla and Cataluña.

The paintings are each 3.5 metres high and the collection has a total length of 70 metres. Not surprisingly, when he completed the commission in 1917, Sorolla said he was „exhausted„. The room housing The Provinces of Spain opened in New York in 1926, three years after Sorolla's death. The Sorolla Museum in Madrid, his former home, contains many other works by the artist.

The 14 immense panels have been restored thanks to an initiative by Bancaja and are presently touring six cities in the country, finishing in Madrid where they will form an ambitious retrospective of Sorolla's work at El Prado. The exhibition ''Sorolla, vision of Spain'' is in Málaga until September 21 and attracted more than 1,500 visitors on its first day.

EU to slash text message 'roaming' charges by two

By Oliver McIntyre

Mobile phone users who send text messages when travelling within the EU could see price cuts of more than 60 per cent, based on new legislation planned by the European Commission.

The EU’s telecoms commissioner, Viviane Reding, said the new rule is in response to the failure of the mobile phone operators to reduce the charges voluntarily, as she recommended last year. At that time, she suggested a maximum charge of 0.12 euros.

The current EU-wide average is 0.29 euros, but the roaming charges vary greatly by country. For example, Britons travelling in Spain can expect to pay 0.63 euros per message while Germans would pay 0.41 euros and a traveller from France would pay 0.30 euros. Meanwhile, those with Spanish mobile phones travelling outside the country pay 0.40 euros per message.

It is expected the new legislation will put the cap at between 0.11 euros and 0.15 euros, as recommended by the European Regulators’ Group.

Last year the commission put caps on the roaming charges for calls, despite strong resistance from the operators. Now the operators say the regulation on the text roaming charges is unnecessary, arguing that prices have already been dropping due to natural competition.

The GSM Association, the global trade group for the mobile industry, says the average price of text roaming services in the EU „has declined by 18 per cent in the last year, as operators launch new tariffs, allowing consumers to buy bundles of texts.“

But the EC remains unconvinced and it is expected the new legislated will be presented in draft form this fall and take effect by July 2009.

„EU citizens should be free to text across borders without being ripped off,“ said Commissioner Reding.

ETA blasts northern coasts

The attacks marked the beginning of the terrorists' summer campaign

By David Eade

It's the height of the summer season and ETA has struck again. The latest outrage from the terrorist group came on Sunday as five small bombs exploded in the Cantabria region of northern Spain. Four blasts were at popular seaside resorts and sent hundreds of residents and holidaymakers fleeing for cover.

The attacks marked the beginning of ETA's now traditional summer bombing campaign. The targets are usually holiday resorts and involve small devices aimed at spreading fear and driving tourists away. In Sunday's attacks a woman was hurt by a flying stone and another treated for shock after the resort blasts which were timed for mid-day. It is all part of the terrorist group's 40-year fight for an independent Basque state.

The Spanish government insists that ETA has been severely weakened by a string of arrests. Nonetheless the terror group has carried out over a dozen attacks, killing two people, so far this year.

Madrid condemned Sunday's attacks and promised it would fight on against ETA. The terrorist organisation has killed more than 800 people since 1968. Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba warned: ''The best way to get a long prison sentence in Spain at the moment is to join ETA.''

The ETA attacks came at a time when the Basque government is seeking to hold a referendum that could mark a step towards independence. However it too condemned Sunday's attacks and said in a statement that the region would decide its future with votes, not bombs.

Three deaths in 10 days

Cruz Roja protest at lack of safety facilities on Tarifa's beaches

By David Eade

Last week CDSN reported on the death of a man after he drowned in the Atlanterra area of Tarifa. This was followed by widespread claims from beach users that there were not sufficient safety measures to protect bathers.

This week CDSN reports that 25 volunteers from Cruz Roja (Red Cross), who are responsible for providing the safety service, attempted to call a protest to complain about their lack of facilities. They announced they will only be operating a minimal service and although the lifeguards gathered at Tarifa's town hall doors, the local police informed them that their protest was illegal and demanded that they disperse.

However the volunteers made their point. One of the protestors, Álvaro Martí, told the media that he had joined demonstrations in other years about the lack of equipment but this year the situation was even worse. He said they had to cover 24 kilometres of beach but added that there were only three watch towers and these were 400 metres apart leaving the rest of the area unprotected.

The lifeguard explained that these watch towers were vital for providing an adequate safety service to the public.

The Cruz Roja volunteers say that last year there were ten watch towers compared with this year's three. They believe the lack of these towers was partly responsible for the tragic death at Atlanterra. Another lifeguard said they lacked other equipment and the ability to reach some beaches. He stated that they had a special vehicle to allow handicapped people to bathe but said that it was not usable on many beaches.

The mayor of Tarifa, Miguel Manella, reacted angrily to the ''illegal'' protest by Cruz Roja volunteers. He admitted that there were some problems but insisted these were being dealt with. He also said he was not happy with the service provided by Cruz Roja. The provincial Cruz Roja organisation has distanced itself from the volunteers' actions but the Partido Popular has demanded Manella's resignation because of the state of the beaches.

Beach deaths

A middle-aged Frenchmen died while kite surfing at Valdevaqueros on Thursday. The tragedy happened at 16.30 and there is some confusion over the cause of death although witnesses say he was inexperienced and became entangled in the kite lines causing him to sink and drown. His is the third death in ten days after the 70-year-old at Atlanterra and a 43-year-old Belgian windsurfer who died on Torre La Peña 1 beach at 16.40 on Monday. He was rescued from the sea by a companion and it is believed he died from natural causes as there was no water in his lungs but a post-mortem will be carried out.