News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Fatal air crash followed two aborted landings
A CAA report's provisional findings into the accident were published last week
By Dave Jamieson
THE LIGHT aircraft which crashed 800 metres from Trapiche aerodrome near Vélez-Málaga last month had already made two attempts to land. The two British occupants of the plane died instantly in the accident.
Provisional findings into the cause of the crash by the Investigating Committee into Civil Aviation Accidents and Incidents were published last week.
The report said the aircraft had taken off from the aerodrome and was returning after an hour's flying.
It said that after a second aborted attempt at landing, the pilot increased height again, then made a left turn at which point he lost control and the aircraft came down.
The report, which is still subject to modifications and corrections, depended to a large extent on a video recording of the incident made at the aerodrome.
Parents want daughter's killer locked up
Court to decide whether sentence stands, be toughened or the case dismissed
By David Eade
THE Málaga provincial court has been meeting to review the sentence passed on the youth who was found guilty of murdering 13-year-old María Esther Jiménez in Arriate in January 2011.
The court can decide to revise or confirm the sentence handed down on her killer.
At the time of Esther's murder her killer was 17 and was tried in a minor's court and his sentence is that for a youth and not an adult. Currently he is being held in a supervised flat but Esther's parents believe he should be incarcerated.
The youth was arrested two weeks after Esther was murdered. Because he was underage before he went on trial he was detained in a closed centre for preventative detention. There is a time limit under which a minor can be held in such a centre so when that period expired the judge ruled he should be detained in a supervised apartment.
Here the regime is more relaxed and he is allowed out on occasions.
The sentence was five years in a closed regime followed by another five years of supervised liberty. However Esther's parents do not agree with the sentence currently in place and want the prison term lengthened.
The defendant's legal team want the conviction reversed and their client absolved.
Tax hike for incomes over 60,000 euros
Junta de Andalucía this week announced its measures to meet its deficit target of 1.5 per cent of regional GDP
By Oliver McIntyre
HIGHER-INCOME Costa residents are to be hit with a higher income tax after the Junta de Andalucía this week announced its measures to meet its deficit target of 1.5 per cent of regional GDP.
The 2.5 billion-euro cuts and tax package will see public employees - including the regional president and ministers - hit with salary cuts averaging five per cent, achieving a savings of 780 million euros in personnel costs.
Further, a freeze has been put on all but emergency public works, resulting in a cut of 570 million euros from the Junta's 2012 budget, which in total has dropped from 32 billion euros to 29.5 billion euros.
The regional portion of income tax will be increased to a rate of 23.5 per cent for those earning 60,000 to 120,000 euros, and to 25.5 per cent for those with income of more than 120,000 euros. The current rates are 21.5 per cent for incomes between 60,000 and 80,000 euros, 22.5 per cent for those between 80,000 and 120,000 euros, and 24.5 per cent for those over 120,000 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.
EXPATS OWED CASH
Britons battle for '€490m in overpaid inheritance tax'
By Oliver McIntyre
MORE than 40,000 Britons may have been overcharged Spanish inheritance tax for properties or assets inherited in Spain, and the legal battle is on to claw back the estimated 490 million euros in overpayments.
The European Commission has taken Spain to the European Court of Justice for the country's policy of taxing non-residents up to 34 per cent inheritance tax (IHT) on inherited property while Spanish residents pay nearly nothing.
A European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling will take time but lawyers are already taking action to represent affected Britons, who were charged overpayments averaging 12,000 euros each.
While 60,000 Britons are believed to have been affected in the last eight years - as well as thousands of other EU citizens - only 40,000 are still able to file a claim due to Spanish legal time limits, which stop claimants attempting to make a claim after four years from the tax payment date, says Spanish Legal Reclaims, an action group set up to represent people caught out by the policy.
Former mayor arrested on corruption charges
The Majestic urbanisation at Casares Costa in spotlightBy David Eade
THE small municipality of Casares, with just 5,300 residents, was added this week to the list of Costa del Sol towns (Manilva, Marbella, Estepona, Alhaurín el Grande, Alcaucín and Ronda) caught up in corruption scandals involving either serving or former mayors.
Former Izquierda Unida mayor Juan Sánchez, his wife, an Estepona lawyer and an unidentified fourth person were arrested on Monday by police acting for the anti-corruption prosecutor and appeared before the judge following their arrest.
At press time the investigation is on-going. The charges are said to relate to money laundering and town planning corruption, both involving organised criminal organisations.
The four arrested have been accused of obstructing justice in town planning, fraud, money laundering and being in cahoots with criminals. Both the Guardia Civil and the National Police are involved in the investigation.
The judge in charge of the case has now declared a secrecy order but 'Operacion Majestic' started at the end of 2010 under the lead of the Estepona court.
Sánchez is currently the councillor for institutional relations, co-operation and housing. He had been mayor from 1979 leaving office in 2009 to take over the leadership of the association of town halls of the western Costa del Sol. Between 1995 and 2000 he was in opposition when Jesús Gil's GIL party were in power.
U-turns and confusion on motorway toll chargesGovernment flip-flops on proposal; Catalan drivers already protesting over their tolls
By David Eade and Dave Jamieson
LAST week saw claims and counter claims on government plans to start charging private motorists to use the country's autovías. On Wednesday, the Secretary of State for Commerce claimed the policy would be introduced shortly, forcing the prime minister to issue a denial the following day.
Jaime García-Legaz said that Spain should follow the model set by France and Germany as it emerged that the Public Works Ministry is developing a proposal which would charge private cars using all state motorways within a year. The secretary of state said that users of public transport would not be charged.
However, next day Prime Minister Rajoy said that the subject would "not go before any cabinet meeting," adding that it had be discussed but that no decision had been taken.
The issue of toll roads was also raised during the week by the president of the Madrid region who says she is considering making drivers pay to use motorways under her control. Esperanza Aguirre said that the income would go towards the 30 million-euro annual cost of maintaining the autovías, amongst them the M45 which partially encircles the capital and the M501 which runs south-west from the city.
Meanwhile, the mayor of the city of Madrid, Ana Botella, says she plans to fine drivers who leave their engines running while stationary to reduce contamination, but does not support the idea of toll roads, while the minister of public workks, Ana Pastor, is on record as saying that she wants transport in Spain to be high quality and efficient but with the least burden on the public purse.
UK tourists hit by bmibaby closure
JSummer holidaymakers could be affected as flight cancellations to begin in June
By Dave Jamieson
THE low-cost airline bmibaby is to close after its owners were unable to find a buyer for it. Routes to Málaga and Alicante are amongst those which will be cancelled in a two-phase shutdown, beginning next month.
The International Airlines Group which also operates Iberia and British Airways acquired bmibaby and bmi regional last month as part of a deal to buy the main bmi business from Lufthansa. Talks are reported to be in progress with a potential buyer for bmi regional, but IAG said bmibaby has generated no interest "despite attempts over many months".
The company has started consultations with trade unions and expects the airline to be fully grounded by September. However, European flights will begin to be cancelled from Friday, June 8, putting the summer holiday plans of many UK travellers at risk.
Outcry over proposal to charge for hospital food
By Oliver McIntyre
Several regions want patients to pay for food to help cut healthcare costs
CONSUMER groups reacted with outcry last week after it was revealed that several regional governments have proposed charging patients for hospital food.
Cash-strapped regional governments hit with tight deficit-reduction requirements are desperately seeking ways to cut costs, and four regions - Cataluña, Galicia, Valencia and Castilla-La Mancha - have proposed making patients pay part of the cost of their hospital food, said Health Ministry sources.
It is estimated that the average boarding cost in Spain's public hospitals (food, laundry, etc) is 24 euros per patient per day. The proposals would see a portion of this cost paid by the patient, on a sliding scale based on income.
Cataluña has been the biggest proponent of the idea, with its president Artur Mas (CiU) in early April urging Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to implement the measure nationally. The Partido Popular government did not act on this when approving its healthcare reforms last month, and to date Cataluña has also not implemented the measure, though it has now said it is considering introducing a five-euro fee for each day a patient is in hospital.
It was revealed last week that the other aforementioned regions - all ruled by the Partido Popular - also proposed the hospital food charges in the meetings held as the government was developing its cost-cutting health reforms.