News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Transsexual attacks female prison guard
The inmate, legally a woman, has been transferred to the prison's male section
By Oliver McIntyre
A transsexual prisoner who is legally recognised as a woman but has not yet undergone a sex-change operation attacked a female guard at the Alhaurín de la Torre prison, reported prison unions last week.
The inmate, 33, is registered in the civil registry as a female and as such has been held in the women's section of the prison. She was recently transferred to Alhaurín from the Albolete prison in Granada, reportedly in preparation for undergoing a sex-change operation in Málaga.
However, the 5ft 11in, 12-and-a-half-stone inmate has been moved to a solitary confinement cell in the male section of the prison after he allegedly attacked a female guard, pulling her hair, slamming her into a wall and dragging her across the floor.
It is understood the guard did not suffer serious injury but did experience some pain and emotional distress.
Both the CSIF and ACAIP prison unions denounced the attack and indicated the prisoner had a history of violence, against both men and women, and a record of some 40 disciplinary incidents.
Fire team thought to be responsible for blaze
The accusations have come as a major surprise as investigations were centring on landowners burning vegetation
By David Eade
Guardia Civil investigations into the cause of the Pujerra fire that destroyed 784 hectares of the Sierra Bermeja and higher reaches of the Genal Valley in early February, have revealed that the culprits could be members of an INFOCA fire prevention team.
The six members of the team have been held responsible by a Ronda court for offences against the environment. They had previously been questioned by the Guardia Civil. It was the largest fire of its kind in Andalucía for two years and the second worst in the province of Málaga in the past decade. The flames destroyed pine and chestnut trees plus scrubland in the municipalities of Pujerra, Júzcar, Jubrique and Benahavís.
The team had been working on the Saturday morning (February 4) when the fire started whilst they were clearing and burning vegetation in the wooded area - a job carried out to prevent such blazes from starting. On the day they carried out the work there was a "yellow" alert in place for strong winds and no fires should have been lit.
The judge now has to determine whether their work on the El Helechar property was the cause of the blaze which took 80 hours to extinguish. The accusations against the INFOCA team have come as a major surprise as the Andalucía minister of the environment had stated it had started accidentally and investigations were centring on landowners burning vegetation.
Odyssey treasure finally arrives on Spanish soil
Two military planes hauled the 17-ton treasure trove from the US to Madrid
By Dave Jamieson
THE Odyssey treasure finally arrived back in Spain on Saturday morning. It was seen off from the US by Spain's ambassador to the United States before being flown to the Torrejón de Ardoz airbase in Madrid on board two Hercules C-130 transport planes of the Spanish Air Force.
A secret operation to move the 17 tons of treasure to the MacDill air base in Tampa was mounted by Florida's military units and government on Friday, with around 100 miles of highways being secured. The previous day, archaeologists from Spain completed their three-day inventory of the treasure which Odyssey Marine Exploration found in the remains of the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, sunk in 1804 by the British navy off the coast of Portugal. Since it was found and transported to the US in 2007, over 70 per cent of the haul was stored at a secret warehouse in Sarasota while Spain fought legal battles with Odyssey in the US courts.
Mijas to require building inspectionsBy Oliver McIntyre
The new ordinance will also lay out aesthetic requirements on facades
MIJAS town hall is to introduce a new ordinance that will require periodic safety inspections for older buildings in the town and will also lay out aesthetic requirements including limitations on the installation of antennas and air-conditioning units on building facades.
Known as the ITE (Inspección Técnica de Edificios), the by-law will require the owners of all buildings more than 25 years old to commission a technical inspection of the building to certify its safety and proper condition.
Once the ordinance takes effect - it was provisionally approved at Saturday's council meeting - owners will have two years to get an inspection performed by an architect or building inspector. After the initial inspection, follow-up ones will be required every 15 years for buildings less than 50 years old and every 10 years for those more than 50 years old, explained public works councillor Manuel Navarro.
Fraudulent Nerja president does dealThe agreement, reportedly signed by all parties, sees a reduced prison sentence and a civil liabilty payment of 151,000 euros plus legal costs
By Dave Jamieson
THE former British president of a Nerja residents' association who defrauded some of its members is reported to have reached a deal with the prosecutor. He was due to have appeared in court next week on two separate charges of aggravated embezzlement. The 52-year-old was president of an association of 130 properties in the Capistrano Playa development in Nerja between 2006 and 2009.
The prosecutor alleged that he had taken money from owners to carry out work on their houses, but the work was never done. He was also accused of embezzling community fees and payments for maintenance which he had been given by some owners. The fiscal prosecutor had asked for him to be jailed for five years for the embezzlement which he said was aggravated because of the length of time it continued, plus four years for continued fraud.
The residents' association had also made a private prosecution in the case, in which it demanded five years imprisonment for misappropriation, five for fraud and two for falsifying of documents.
The former president was arrested by the Guardia Civil in May 2009 after the residents' association denounced him. They alleged he had acquired a large sum, possibly 200,000 euros, from the community's funds after discrepancies had been detected in the income and expenditure accounts. He then spent 16 months in prison. It is reported that he has now reached an agreement with the prosecution to accept a prison sentence of four years for a continuing offence of fraud, plus the payment of 151,000 euros in civil liability. The deal, which was signed by his legal representative and other interested parties, including the residents' association of which he was president, also prohibits him from any such role for the same period. He will also pay court costs.
Father of missing children to remain in jail
Study of security videos finds children never arrived with him to the park
By Oliver McIntyre
A CÓRDOBA court last week ordered that José Bretón, the father of the two children who went missing in the city last October, remain in jail without bail as the investigation continues. Sr Bretón, who is the primary suspect in the children's disappearance, is being held on charges of illegal detention of minors and falsely reporting a crime.
In a nearly four-hour court hearing last Thursday, Sr Bretón reiterated his claim that the children disappeared on October 8 while he was with them at Córdoba's Cruz Conde park. He maintained his version of events despite a study carried out by the University of Valencia which found with 98 per cent certainty that the children never arrived at the park with their father the day he reported their disappearance. Security camera footage shows his car arriving at the park without the children inside.
At the time they went missing, six-year-old Ruth and her two-year-old brother José were visiting Córdoba from Huelva with their father, who had custody of them for the weekend with the permission of their mother. The parents were going through a separation.
Police have carried out large-scale search efforts, including at properties owned by Sr Bretón's parents in Córdoba, but to date no signs of the children have been found. Several demonstration marches have been held both in Córdoba and in Huelva in a show of support for family members and the missing children.
Sr Bretón claims that he took the children to the park and while they were strolling he sat down momentarily to rest and lost site of them.
Pain at the pump as petrol hits record high
Prices could continue to rise as Brent tops $120 a barrel
By Oliver McIntyre
FILLING up in Spain is more expensive than ever as the average price of 95-octane petrol hit 1.392 euros last week, a record high, according to the EU Oil Bulletin.
In most areas of Andalucía, including the Costa, prices are even higher, with 95-octane petrol at more than 1.40 euros a litre at many filling stations.
The previous historic high for petrol in Spain was from May 5, 2011, when the price hit 1.381 euros a litre.
Diesel prices are also soaring, hitting an average of 1.35 euros a litre last week, up 1.9 per cent from just the previous week.
Compared to this time last year, petrol prices are up 9.6 per cent while diesel is up nine per cent, meaning a 55-litre fill-up costs drivers an average of 6.50 euros more than it did a year ago.
The price pressure is likely to continue as the Brent oil price broke 120 dollars a barrel last week amid continued instability in the oil market and threats that Iran could cut its exportations to much of Europe, including Spain, ahead of the planned EU embargo in Iranian oil imports beginning in July. At the weekend Iran announced it was halting exports to France and the UK.