News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Spain ups the ante in Gibraltar fishing dispute
Guardia Civil patrol boats and helicopter escort Spanish fishing boats
By David Eade
TENSIONS continue to mount in the fishing dispute between Spain and Gibraltar as Guardia Civil patrol boats escort Spanish fishing boats in the waters off the Rock.
The dispute between Gibraltar and the local fishing fleets in La Línea and Algeciras is technically simple but historically complex. Gibraltar's 1991 Nature Protection Act specifically prohibits the use of seine and gill nets in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. Seabed raking and the use of artificial lights for attracting fish are also illegal under the Act. However these methods, including drift nets as well as long lines, are used by Spanish fishermen in Gibraltar's waters.
But in 1999 the then chief minister Peter Caruana reached an agreement with the fishermen that basically led to the 1991 act being ignored. When the GSLP Liberal government was returned in December of last year it rejected this arrangement and immediately moved to ensure the law was observed, effectively banning the fishing fleets from La Línea and Algeciras from fishing in the zone.
There have been several meetings between Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo, his environment minister, Dr John Cortes, and other officials with the confraternities (‘cofradías') representing the two fishing fleets. Whilst La Línea's fishermen have reached a temporary agreement with Gibraltar during which time a commission is to look in to the fishing issue, their counterparts in Algeciras have not.
Crackdown on annoying restaurant touts
Mijas to increase patrolling, with fines of up to 3,000 euros
By Oliver McIntyre
AHEAD of the summer onslaught of tourists, Mijas town hall has launched a crackdown on the use of touts to woo customers into local restaurants and shops.
The local police and municipal inspectors have been ordered to "reinforce their patrolling," with the use of both uniformed and plainclothes officers, to stamp out the practice, which is known locally as ‘fishing' and is banned under a local bylaw.
The town hall says that while the practice occurs year-round it typically intensifies in the summer months as local establishments vie for the business of the thousands of tourists that visit the town.
"In the majority of cases the touts use an aggressive approach, making tourists uncomfortable," said the town hall.
The councillor for public ways, Juan Carlos González, had a clear message for establishments that use touts: "Stop, or you will face fines of up to 3,000 euros."
Hospital virus outbreak sparks investigation
Carlos Haya officials say death of two patients was not caused by the virusBy Dave Jamieson
THE PROSECUTOR in Málaga has opened an investigation into how Carlos Haya hospital has been handling the presence of a virus which has been contracted by about 20 patients since the end of April. An internal enquiry at the hospital said that the deaths of two such patients who died last week cannot be directly attributed to the virus.
The case has been raised by a patients' watchdog, the Defensor del Paciente, which has been critical of the hospital. The group's lawyer in Málaga, Damián Vázquez, said last week that it was an "outrage" that the regional health service said a few days before the deaths that the situation was under control and that the patients were in a stable condition.
The prosecutor's office wants to determine whether the hospital has behaved correctly following the first detection of the virus at the end of April in the intensive care unit.
The virus had caused an infection to develop in the first of last week's victims, a 65-year-old who died on Monday, but although the second person, a 50-year-old, had contracted the virus, it had not yet developed into an infection before his death the following morning. Following an internal enquiry, the hospital said that both had passed away as a result of their underlying medical condition.
EXPATS' DAY IN COURTHome buyers optimistic they will claw back €1.5m in off-plan deposits
By Alex Watkins
IN what its members have dubbed the ‘Trial of the Year', the Finca Parcs Action Group went to court last week to fight for the return of the off-plan deposits they made on properties that were never completed.
The group's lawyer has alleged the builder of the unfinished urbanisation, Cleyton GES, and financer, the Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo (CAM), had "not complied with the law" and "robbed" those affected.
Some 70 mostly British and Irish group members had gathered in Hellín, Albacete, for the trial from May 21-22.
They are demanding the return of 1.5 million euros they paid in off-plan deposits between 2005 and 2007.
Group spokesman Keith Rule said they have suffered "extreme stress and heartache over the last five years" as their "dream of a house in an idyllic location has turned into a nightmare".
The company has insisted they still hope to finish the development with the help of other partners.
Before the trial the group held peaceful protests outside the local branch of the CAM and the court of first instance.
Under Spanish law deposits must be paid into a special account, separate from any of the promoter's other funds and exclusively for the construction of the homes; while the bank is liable to provide the guarantee.
Another crash at VÉlez airfield
Man, 62, injured at same airport where two Britons died last month
By Dave Jamieson
ANOTHER accident at Vélez-Málaga aerodrome has left a 62-year-old man seriously injured when his light aircraft crashed on takeoff on Friday. The incident follows the deaths of two British men in April whose plane crashed while they were trying to land in windy conditions.
In the latest incident, the plane, which was carrying a single occupant, came down in a field 200 metres from the runway at around 6pm. The pilot is reported to have received serious head injuries and was quickly rescued before being transferred by helicopter to Carlos Haya hospital in Málaga where he was admitted to the intensive care unit for surgery.
The impact of the crash also split open the aircraft's fuel tank and, with the engine still running, fire crews were rapidly deployed to the site and covered the wreckage in foam.
Naval ship pirates face 1,000 years each
By Oliver McIntyre
The six Somalis allegedly attacked patrol ship thinking it was a freighter
SIX alleged Somali pirates accused of attempting to commandeer a Spanish Navy ship in January of this year are facing prison sentences averaging 1,000 years each.
It is alleged that the men attacked the Patiño, a combat stores ship which was on patrol in the Indian Ocean, after mistaking it for a private freighter or fishing vessel.
The High Court judge in charge of the case, Eloy Velasco, has indicted the men on 218 counts of attempted kidnapping - one for each crewmember onboard the navy ship - and one count each of attempted piracy, disobeying orders from a military ship, causing bodily injury, membership in a criminal organisation and illegal possession of arms. The potential sentences range from 893 to 1,122 years in prison.