News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Teba's mass grave is second largest in Spain
The excavation is expected to reveal the remains of 125 people executed in the Civil War
By Dave Jamieson and Oliver McIntyre
WORK underway in Teba on an unmarked civil war grave has uncovered the remains of 35 people so far and is expected to reveal around 125 by the time the excavation is compete.
It is the second largest mass civil war grave excavation in the country, following that at Málaga's San Rafael cemetery.
The work at the Teba cemetery is being performed by archaeologists and coordinated by the Antequera Association for Historical Memory, which received a government grant for the project following requests from local residents wanting to identify deceased relatives and give them a proper burial.
Among the remains believed to be in the mass grave are those of the victims of an incident known as 'La noche de los 80', in which 81 men and 3 women were executed by Franco forces in a single night on February 23, 1937.
The excavation work - which began in February and is expected to be complete by the end of June - aims to uncover and inventory all of the remains, and at the same time research work is being carried out in the local and provincial archives.
Town hall cracks down on 'lowball' works licences
The council expects the costs listed on licence applications to be in line with the "market value of the works"
By Oliver McIntyre
MIJAS town hall has moved to reject applications for works licences on which the applicants underestimate or 'lowball' the value of the works in an attempt to pay less for the licence.
"The cost of performing the work for which the licence is sought is the basis for calculating the tax that must be paid by the applicant for the issuance of the licence," explained the town hall. In other words, the higher the cost of the work to be carried out, the higher the tax.
At last week's town hall cabinet meeting councillors rejected several licence applications after determining that they contained falsely low estimates of the cost of the works.
Among them was a project to demolish a 76-square-metre home, with the estimated cost listed at 3,000 euros, "when that's what it would cost just for the rubble skips and having them hauled away," said the Partido Popular governing team's spokesman, Mario Bravo.
Train users steamed at Cercanías price hike
By Oliver McIntyre
MANY passengers were shocked and upset when the Cercanías train ticket price jumped by as much as 50 per cent last week.
Renfe had requested permission from the Public Works Ministry in April for the price hike but it was not widely known that it was to take effect on May 1.
Passengers buying a weekday return ticket from Málaga to Fuengirola on the C-1 line suddenly found that the round-trip cost them 6.70 euros, a 49 per cent increase from the previous price of 4.50 euros. The same price increase affects the C-2 Málaga-Álora line.
The huge hike is the result of not only an increase in individual ticket prices, but also a scrapping of the discount that used to be applied for same-day return trips. The one-way ticket price for a weekday trip from Málaga to the line's terminus in Fuengirola increased by 13.5 per cent, from 2.95 euros to 3.35 euros (on weekends and holidays it is also 3.35 euros, up from 3 euros previously). But a same-day return ticket used to cost 4.50 euros - a discount of 24 per cent - while now it is the same price as two one-way tickets, or 6.70 euros.
This week Málaga's mayor, Francisco de la Torre (PP), stated that if Torremolinos will not come to an agreement on paying the debt, the city will have no choice but to file for such an injunction.
Arson at MÁlaga Fire Service base
A recent court judgement which affected 270 jobs could have been behind the incident
By Dave Jamieson
A FIRE which broke out at the offices of the Provincial Fire Service in Málaga early on May Day is thought to have been started intentionally.
The emergency services were alerted around 5am by a neighbour who lives above the offices and three fire crews attended the premises in Paseo de Reding.
No-one was injured but serious damage was caused to the building's electrical installations and office furniture. Repairs have been estimated at 100,000 euros.
Investigators quickly confirmed that the incident was being treated as theft and arson. They said that documents had been rifled and scattered across the floor, a computer was missing and there was evidence that the blaze had started at two distinct points. However, there was no sign of forced entry so suspicion presently rest on someone who has keys to the offices which occupy three floors of an apartment block.
The office manager, Manuel Marmolejo, described the attack as "sabotage" and a "totally intentional" act carried out by several people. He said they knew how to get into the building, where to go, what information to take and what to do. He said that the stolen computer held economic and administrative data related to the daily management of the fire service.
Iberia pilots suspend strike action
Government appoints mediator for arbitration between workers and companyBy Dave Jamieson
THE UNION representing pilots working for Iberia has announced a suspension of their twice-weekly strike action. Sepla said on Friday that the government had agreed to put their case to arbitration.
Pilots began their current industrial action in December and since April 9 had stopped work every Monday and Friday, with plans to continue the action until July. Iberia says each day of stoppages and cancelled flights costs it three million euros in lost revenue.
Sepla said that it had made repeated requests for arbitration to find a resolution to the conflict after its representatives had found it "impossible" to negotiate with the airline's management. It claims that 8,000 jobs could be lost following the launch of the new low-cost carrier, Iberia Express, on March 25.
The government said on Friday that the aim of the arbitration is to "put an end to a dispute which is costing everybody dear and also seriously affects passengers," and has appointed the former head of the Economic Social Council to be the mediator. Jaime Montalvo is a professor of employment law and was given ten days to resolve the dispute. Both sides accepted the appointment but made no any further comment.
The move followed a demand earlier last week by the Spanish Confederation of Tourist Hotels and Accommodation for Ministers to make a forceful intervention in the dispute. It said "privileged" pilots were posing a continual threat to the livelihood of others, especially at such a critical time for the economy. The confederation also called for legislation to ensure that tourism and its related activities are regarded as essential services which are to be kept functioning properly at all times, effectively outlawing strikes in the sector.
19 years for killer of American teacher in SevillaJury finds killer not guilty of desecrating corpse, despite cutting up victim
By Oliver McIntyre
A MAN convicted of murdering an American teacher in Sevilla in August 2010 has been sentenced to 19 years in prison.
The Sevilla provincial court issued the sentence after a jury found Antonio Gordillo, 31, guilty of murdering Laura Cerna, 49, but not guilty of desecrating the corpse, which he chopped up and threw in the Guadalquivir river.
The sentence is one year less than the 20 years sought by the public prosecutor and the private prosecution brought by the family.
The jury found Sr Gordillo guilty of pre-mediated but not aggravated murder - moving the prosecution to lower its sentence request from 25 years to 20 years - and ruled that he was not guilty of desecrating a corpse because he cut up the victim's body in an effort to hide his crime and not as an act of disrespect for the dead.
The jury rejected the defendant's story that Mrs Cerna, an English teacher and long-time resident of Sevilla, killed herself in his apartment when he spurned her sexual advances after they had been drinking and taking drugs.
Unemployment hits 18-year high
Jobless rate climbs to nearly 25 per cent with more than 5.6 million out of work
By Dave Jamieson
JUST under a quarter of Spain's active population is now unemployed. Friday's figures from the National Statistics Institute show that, in the first quarter of the year, the number of people out of work increased by 365,900 to a total of 5,639,500. This increased the unemployment rate by 1.6 points to 24.44 per cent, the highest level since 1994.
The number of homes in which everyone is seeking work has risen by 9.7 per cent, compared with the final quarter of 2011, and now stands at 1.7 million, while half of the country's under-25s do not have a job. The number of those who have been out of work for more than a year rose by three per cent, while the services sector suffered the heaviest job losses.
Amongst the regions, Andalucía recorded the greatest increase in unemployment with 81,100 more people looking for work, followed by 61,000 more in Cataluña and an additional 40,000 in Valencia. In the province of Málaga, the first three months of the year showed an increase of 23,200 in the number of people out of work which produced a new historic high provincial unemployment rate of 34.61 per cent. Only the provinces of Cádiz (36.37 per cent) and Almería (35.28 per cent) recorded higher rates.
The driver of the 4x4 tested at 0.49 l/mg for alcohol, double the legal limit.
Michelle Obama spent €380,000 on Costa holiday
By David Eade
Expensive trip raises eyebrows in US but is celebrated by Málaga tourism industry
IT HAS been revealed in the US that the president's wife. in the company of daughter Sasha, spent 380,000 euros on her 2010 holiday on the Costa del Sol.
It has been a hot topic in the States where politicians and journalists have been debating the cost of her trip in recent days. The figures were revealed by Judicial Watch, a conservative group that works to promote government transparency and root out corruption.
However, the visit of the first lady draws no complaint from a Costa del Sol that has been battling the effects of the slump in tourism due to the financial crisis. Experts value the positive effects of Michelle Obama's visit as being worth 800 million euros to the province.