News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Three missing La Línea babies' tombs opened
Another in Estepona to be examined
By David Eade
IN NOVEMBER 2009 the first case of missing babies was announced in La Línea but such suspicious disappearances have now been reported throughout Spain. In the Campo de Gibraltar there are now 105 'denuncias' alone.
In La Línea the missing babies were largely all born either in the former municipal hospital or two private clinics in the town. The mothers were told their babies had died shortly after birth but the suspicion of many of these families is their babies were sold or offered up to adoptive families.
The cases in the Campo de Gibraltar have been taken over by the Algeciras prosecutor who in turn has ordered the National Police to investigate. The majority of the reports of the missing babies relate to the 60s and 70s, during the Franco era, although some extend into the 1980s.
Last Tuesday afternoon the San José cemetery closed its gates after a La Línea judge ordered three of the niches to be opened. At around 5pm, with the judge, a judicial secretary, forensic police and members of the specialised and violent crime squad in attendance, the exhumations started. The parents of the babies involved were only informed hours before the niches were opened and the mobile phones of the cemetery employees were impounded so no photographs could be taken during the process.
Expropriations for high-speed train test track
Project will affect parts of Antequera, Mollina, Humilladero and other towns
By Oliver McIntyre
THE CONSTRUCTION of a 59-kilometre high-speed train test track in the Antequera plain is to require the expropriation of some 350 hectares of land, according to the final project plan. The circular test track, known as the ‘anillo ferroviario', is to be located to the northwest of Antequera, affecting parts of Antequera, Mollina, Humilladero, Fuente de Piedra and Benamejí.
The final route indicated by planners - though it could still undergo modifications - takes the track to the north of Sierra de Mollina, eliminating the impact on the vineyards in the zone, and includes the creation of a covered stretch along 770 metres to reduce the impact on wildlife by maintaining unimpeded connection between the Sierra de Mollina and the Sierra de Camorra. The plan also leaves intact the traditional route of Mollina's annual romería.
The expropriations will affect mainly agricultural land, including 183 hectares of olive grove and 163 hectares of grain and vegetable farmland. The project will require a 30-metre-wide corridor along the track's straightaways, with wider swaths required along the curves and at specific spots slated for additional infrastructure, such as in the Bobadilla zone.
Soundproofing panels will be installed along a stretch of the track that will come within 150 metres of the Los Carvajales district of Humilladero.
The environmental impact statement for the project went on public display last week, with comments and complaints to be accepted until July 26.
The test track is to be built by state railway infrastructure company Adif at a cost of over 400 million euros. It is conceived to handle trains at speeds of up to 520 kph.
Environmentalists name Costa's ‘black flag' beaches
Contamination, pollution and overdevelopment are the causes
By Oliver McIntyre
JUST weeks after the awarding of quality-conferring Blue Flags to 22 beaches in Málaga province, the environmental group Ecologistas en Acción last week slammed nine Costa beaches with its ‘Black Flag' award for environmental degradation.
One of the nine Black Flags refers not to a single beach but to the entirety of Marbella's coastline - despite the fact that four of the town's beaches were awarded Blue Flags this year. Ecologistas en Acción says the jet-set resort serves as the quintessential example of coastal degradation resulting from "rampant urban development that has occupied more than 90 per cent of the first 100 metres of land along the town's nearly 27 kilometres of coastline".
The other black flags are for Rincón de la Victoria beach; Los Baños del Carmen, Cementera and Misericordia beaches in Málaga city; the Parque Fluvial project at the mouth of the Fuengirola river; Playa del Castillo in Manilva; and the Punta de Baños-Matas Verdes and La Rada beaches in Estepona.
HOLIDAY RENTAL SCAMS
Unwary consumers get bitten by attractive online offers
By Oliver McIntyre
THE consumer watchdog Facua has issued a new alert over fraudulent online classified ads for holiday rentals, which it says proliferate during the summer months.
"They offer flats for very attractive prices," said the consumer group in a written notice. "In order to request the money up front, the supposed owners claim they are unable to show the flat because they live outside of Spain or in another province."
The scammers then request one or more months' rent as a deposit in the case of long-term rentals, or an upfront payment for a holiday rental. They will typically instruct the prospective renter to transfer the money into a bank account or to wire it either directly to them or to a messenger company that will supposedly deliver the keys and rental contract upon receipt of the money.
"But the company referred to offers no such service and the advertisers are not the owners of the flat - the money goes straight to the fraudsters," says Facua.
Moroccan man held for Swedish teenager's murder
Knife attack occurred during alleged rape attempt at Fuengirola hostel
By David Eade
A 30-YEAR-OLD Moroccan man has been jailed for allegedly killing an 18-year-old Swedish girl during a rape attempt at a Fuengirola hostel early on Saturday morning.
The teenager, on an end-of-term holiday, was staying with a 19-year-old friend in room 505 of the central El Cid hostel when the attacker burst in on the two girls.
Security cameras recorded the chain of events. The Moroccan man, who was also staying at the hostel, returned from a night out at 3.22am. Around an hour ahead of the man's arrival the girls had also returned to their room.
The Moroccan went to his room - 404 - but left again minutes later hiding something under his coat. He seemingly checked various rooms on the fifth floor before bursting in on 505, where he allegedly attempted to rape his victim. Her cries awoke her friend, who sprang to her aid. The man then stabbed the girl on the floor to death and inflicted knife wounds on her friend, who was treated in hospital but later discharged.
Lower speed limit may be here to stay
110 kph limit has cut fuel consumption by 5%, says government
By Dave Jamieson
THE GOVERNMENT says that the temporary speed limit of 110 kph on Spanish roads is likely to continue after the initial four-month period ends. The deputy prime minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, said he considers it is a measure which "has worked very well".
In March the speed limit was reduced from 120 to 110 kph by the government in order to achieve savings on fuel. The measure is scheduled to end in July, but it now seems that the government is keen to keep the limit low. However, motoring organisations have denounced the law as a blatant attempt to increase revenue via speeding fines.
Industry minister Miguel Sebastian said last week that fuel consumption had been cut by around five per cent, compared with the target of three per cent. The 94 million euros' worth of fuel which had been saved, he added, brought consumption down by eight per cent compared with the same period last year. The minister said the measure has also contributed to reducing the number of accidents on Spain's roads by 9.5 per cent in the first five months of the year. A drop in the number of fines for speeding after the measure was first introduced is, in the minister's view, an indication that the public has accepted the new speed limit.
Sr Rubalcaba told journalists that once a final decision had been taken, it would be announced, and it is understood that this will follow the Cabinet meeting scheduled for June 24.
Meanwhile, the number of radar fines issued for speeding on Spain's motorways rose by eight per cent in the last week of May, compared with figures for the same week last year. This followed a drop of 50 per cent recorded during the first month of the new lower speed limit. The data was released last week by Tráfico, which says the figures suggest that drivers now let down their guard some after getting used to the lower limit.
Supreme Court ruling means many paedos could go free
Downloading images from internet does not prove ‘possession', rules court
By Oliver McIntyre
A NEW Supreme Court ruling establishes legal precedent that could keep many online paedophiles out of jail.
The Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a Tarragona man who was found guilty of downloading child pornography images from the internet, saying that while police found ‘digital fingerprints' indicating the man had downloaded the images, they did not find any of the materials on his computer or on disks in his possession.
The court said that Spanish law prohibits the "possession, production, sale, distribution, diffusion, exhibition, offer or provision" of child pornography materials, but not its viewing or downloading.
Police found digital fingerprints - the trail that is left by downloaded files even after they are deleted from a computer - of a total of 55 child pornography videos or images on three computers owned by the man. The files, which figured on a police database of digital fingerprints associated with child-porn material, contained hardcore explicit images.
However, the court ruled that because police found no images stored on the man's computers, they could not prove possession. Failing proof that the images were stored by him for some period of time, the accused must be given the benefit of the doubt, under the presumption that the images could have been mistakenly downloaded and immediately deleted once he realised what they were, said the court.
Police guards for vulnerable pensioners
Ronda police are concerned over senior citizen safety after a number of robberies
By David Eade
THE LOCAL police in Ronda recently issued a warning to senior citizens when they collect their pensions. They were told they should be on their guard for robbery attempts and if possible go to the bank with a younger member of the family.
Now the police have placed plain clothes officers on the streets and outside the main banks in order to spot potential attackers. They are backed up by a waiting patrol car that can be on the scene in minutes.
Initially the muggers came to Ronda from other towns and villages but lately those arrested have been living locally.
There was an attack just two weeks ago when two women assisted by a youth assaulted a pensioner in Avenida Martínez Astein. They attacked him with force and snatched his wallet containing his pension money.
The majority of the attacks are on victims as they leave the bank with their money especially those who seem confused or have obvious mobility problems.
The chief of Ronda's local police, José Carrasco, said the modus operandi was always the same.
New tourism law threatens 2,000 casas rurales
By Oliver McIntyre
THE new regional tourism law being developed by the Junta de Andalucía could do away with more than 2,000 privately operated ‘casa rural' rental homes in inland countryside zones, according to the Andalucía Network of Rural Accommodations (RAAR).
The group says the new law, which is on its way to the regional parliament for approval, will not allow private individuals to rent out their properties as holiday rentals. Such private rentals currently make up 70 per cent of the rural accommodations offerings, says RAAR.
Under the current legislation, the rural holiday home rentals are recognised as a private activity and not a formal business such as a rural hotel or holiday apartment complex, explained an RAAR spokesman. The person renting it out must declare the income for tax purposes, but is not required to operate as a business.
Under the new law, the concept of the private holiday rental disappears altogether, including for rural properties, says RAAR.