Costa del Sol News - 26th June 2009

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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

'Lucky's' family present 16,000 signature petition

The document calls for an investigation into the youth's death and medical service improvements

By David Eade

The family of Luis Alberto Ramírez, known to his friends as "Lucky", has presented a 16,000 signature petition to the Andalucía Ombudsman, José Chamizo, calling for an investigation into the causes of "Lucky's" death and also demands an improvement in the general level of medical services in the Valle del Genal.

As was extensively reported in the Costa del Sol News at the time in April 2008 the youngster from Gaucín died of peritonitis after having been discharged on a number of occasions by staff at Ronda's hospital.

Speaking after handing over the signatures Luis Alberto's sister, María José Ramírez, stated: "The hospital has said it was going to hold an internal investigation, but at the moment nothing has been done and the situation is the same."

The family also has a case in the Ronda court, a 'curso de reforma' which prevents it from being filed by the judge. They have also issued legal complaints against five members of the medical staff at the hospital and one at the medical centre in Gaucín.

Stars Underground

José Carreras and Joan Manuel Serrat head up Nerja Caves 50th Festival

By Dave Jamieson

The 50th anniversary season of the Nerja International Festival of Music and Dance will bring a host of famous names to the caves complex at Maro where performances are given underground in the Sala del Ballet.

The programme, announced at a press conference last Thursday, is headlined by Serrat and Carreras while the season is a day longer than usual.

On Tuesday, July 21, the opening concert is to be given by Joan Manuel Serrat, considered to be a figure of outstanding importance in Spanish and Catalan language popular music. He was born in Barcelona in 1943 and first became interested in singing and songwriting, aged 17, when he acquired his first guitar.

Serrat's passion for his regional language led to a clash ahead of the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest. He had been chosen to represent Spain with a song called La La La, which he insisted he would sing in Catalan. Eight days before the final, the first to be televised in colour, Serrat was hurriedly replaced with 20-year-old Massiel who went on to win, beating Congratulations, sung for the UK by Cliff Richard, into second place by a single point.

Serrat's recordings were banned in Spain and even burned in the streets, and by 1974 he was forced into exile in Mexico after speaking out against the apparently arbitrary use of the death penalty by Franco's forces. He returned home after the dictator's death and in 1995 the Spanish government finally recognised his contribution to Hispanic culture with the award of a medal. His composition Mediterráneo has been voted the most important Spanish song of the 20th century.

However, those who have not already got tickets for Serrat at the Caves will be disappointed. When tickets went on sale at 8am last Friday, the concert sold out within 45 minutes.

Nadal seems doubtful for Marbella Davis Cup dates

By David Eade

As a dejected Rafael Nadal pulled out of defending his Wimbledon title last week it seemed doubtful that the World Number 1would be fit for Spain's Davis Cup dates in Marbella on July 10, 11 and 12.

Nadal is recovering from tendinitis in both knees and although he played a trial match ahead of Wimbledon he decided not to compete saying that he respected the All England Club championships too much to enter whilst injured.

His doctor, Ángel Ruiz Cotorro, is not very optimistic that Nadal will be recovered for the July dates. He stated that it would take two to three weeks before the tennis ace can contemplate returning to competitions. With the Davis Cup quarter finals just two weeks away time appears to be against Nadal.

Speaking in London Nadal said he had been playing with pain in his knees for several months. He has now returned to his home in Mallorca to first rest and then re-start training.

No Nadal in Marbella will be a major blow for the events organisers but without doubt the key tennis encounter between Spain and Germany will still be a major crowd puller.

Mijas to offer temporary respite on illegal homes

Town hall to stop issuing fines and allow stalling on demolition as solutions sought

By Oliver McIntyre

Mijas town hall is to institute a new system for dealing with illegal structures on non-building land that will provide relief to property owners while gaining time to seek permanent solutions to avoid demolitions.

Under the system proposed last week by the mayor, Antonio Sánchez, and accepted by the opposition councillors, the town hall will no longer issue a series of fines to the owners of illegal properties prior to issuing a demolition order.  Instead, it will move directly to the demolition order, but giving the longest possible deadline for carrying it out. 

The town hall says the goal is to relieve owners of the financial burden of fines and at the same time allow them to stall actual demolition until the finalisation of the town's new local development plan (PGOU), which is expected to contain zoning changes that will legalise many currently illegal homes. 

The move is not retroactive: owners who have already received fines will not have them rescinded, but they will not receive any further ones.

The exact length of the deadline for demolition orders will be decided in collaboration with opposition councillors before the motion for the new system goes to the council for official approval in July, said the mayor.  It will likely vary depending on the type of property, with the longest deadline established for inhabited homes, he said.

British gang's expensive taste betrays them

A police search of two homes turned up a number of luxury items that had been robbed

By Oliver McIntyre

An alleged British robbery gang has been linked to some 30 thefts in Málaga province after officers found numerous expensive designer items in two home searches. Guardia Civil officers arrested three members of the gang, believed to be made up of a total of around a half-dozen members, after catching them in the act of an alleged robbery in Coín. To commit the robbery they were using a 70,000-euro Volvo XC90 4x4 that had previously been carjacked at gunpoint from its owner.

Two home searches in Alhaurín el Grande and in the Sierra Gorda zone of Coín turned up a number of luxury items that investigators were able to trace back to earlier robberies. Among them was a 9,000-euro Bang & Olufsen television, which due to its exclusivity was easy to trace back to the store it had been stolen from. A closetful of expensive designer clothes was quickly linked to a recent break-in at a luxury home in Mijas. Other items included several complete sets of name-brand golf clubs and three luxury watches, including a Bulgari and a Longines valued at more than 3,000 euros apiece.

Woman dies in domestic violence house blaze

Victim had previously reported her partner for abuse

By David Eade

Josefa Morente, 40, who died last week in a house fire in La Línea, is believed to be the victim of domestic violence. The woman's two children were seriously injured in the blaze on Thursday morning.

An emergency call was received at 10.55am reporting a house on fire in Calle Palangre in the Atunara zone. The fire brigade, local police, Protección Civil and ambulance services raced to the scene. The two injured children were rushed to La Línea hospital and then transferred to Sevilla because of the seriousness of their burns.

Another 10 people at the scene suffered from smoke inhalation and were treated by the ambulance crews. At least one firefighter was led away suffering from shock after pulling the victims from the fire.

According to sources at the Asociación de Mujeres en Búsqueda Activa de Empleo (Ambae), the woman had previously reported her partner for abuse. Ambae added that there had been numerous cases of assault and that the former partner had been issued with a court order banning him from approaching the victim.

The Asociación Contra la Violencia de Género protested that the Sra Morente had not received the protection of the police after making formal complaints against him.

ETA helicopter rescue plot foiled

Plan was discovered after arrest of Basque terror group leader

By Dave Jamieson

A plot to fly two ETA prisoners out of jail this summer was thwarted, say government officials.  The Interior Ministry said that Guardia Civil officers have arrested seven people including the man serving a sentence for attempting to assassinate King Juan Carlos.

The audacious plan to collect Jorge García Sertutxa and Igor Solana Matarranz from Huelva prison and fly them out of Spain was discovered following the arrest of Francisco Javier López, nicknamed Thierry, in May.  Thierry is believed to have been ETA's leader and an examination of papers found in his possession revealed details of the plot to rescue Sertutxa, who was jailed for 109 years for an attempt on the King's life in Mallorca during 1995, and López, who was involved in the murder of an army doctor in 2000.  Arkaitz Goikoetxea, arrested in Huelva last year, was named by police as the brains behind the operation.

Also arrested as the helicopter plot unfolded was Bilbao lawyer Iñaki Goyoaga, while Sertutxa's girlfriend was detained as she arrived at Huelva prison to visit him.  The girlfriend of another ETA fugitive, Asier Borrero, was also into custody in the Basque country and had her home searched, and three other ETA activists are reported to have been arrested in the police operation.

No towing from blue zones and radar detectors OK

Congressional committee adds amendments to traffic law reform

By Oliver McIntyre

Cars parked in blue zones without paying, or for longer than the time limit, will no longer be towed but they will still be fined, according to an amendment added to a traffic code reform bill last week by a congressional commission. 

However, cars will be towed if the space they are occupying is reserved for disabled people, as the illegally parked vehicle is in this case considered an obstruction that hinders other road users. Illegally parking in a disabled-parking space will also bring fines of up to 200 euros.

Other amendments added ahead of the traffic law reforms being passed to the lower house of Congress for approval include a removal of the ban on using radar detectors.   However, equipping a vehicle with devices to prevent radar cameras from functioning as intended will remain illegal.

Further, a number of offences that until now have been penalised with a loss of licence points will now incur only fines, with no points docked.  These include ‘negligent driving', which the commission described as too ambiguous, as well as parking or stopping in bus lanes, tunnels, intersections, or on curves.  There will also be no point penalty for speeding on motorways at the entrance to cities - where the speed limit is often reduced to 80 kph - as long as the driver was not exceeding 130 kph.