News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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National Police slash translation services
Costa police stations still to be covered by volunteer interpreters
By Tom Cain and Oliver McIntyre
JUST as the summer season starts to get underway a senior officer within the National Police force, Eugenio Pin, has issued orders prohibiting the use of official translators at National Police stations.
The move is part of an ongoing series of cost cutting measures being implemented by the force.
A letter sent out to all sections of the force said that with immediate effect it was forbidden to use hired interpreters for handling complaints filed at police stations.
This means that in many stations around the country foreign visitors reporting crimes or asking for help will have to hope that the officer dealing with them is able to understand what they want otherwise they will be left out to dry.
However, on the Costa del Sol volunteer interpreter services coordinated by local town halls provide interpreters at not only municipal facilities but also at their local Guardia Civil or National Police stations such as in Mijas, Benalmádena and Torremolinos. These volunteer services should not be affected by the cuts.
End of the line as Vélez tranvía makes final stop
The financially troubled tram is shuttered and new bus services launchedBy Dave Jamieson
THE TRAM service between Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar ran for the final time last Sunday evening before being mothballed to save money. Last week, the municipality's mayor signed a deal with the Alsa coach company to provide bus services to replace the tranvía.
The tranvía - the first municipal light-rail system of its kind in Andalucía - opened in October 2006 and cost 40 million euros to build, since when the town hall has run up a huge debt to the concession operator, Travelsa. With passenger numbers falling and the regional government consistently refusing to subsidise the system, mayor Francisco Delgado says he had no option but to suspend the trams.
He told journalists last week that he is not against the tranvía, but justified the decision as essential to ensure economic and social viability for municipal transport in Vélez. He added that the tranvía last year lost 1.2 million euros.
Four new bus routes operated by seven coaches started operating in the municipality from Monday. They are operated by Alsa, whose CEO Rafael González underlined the "flexibility and sustainability" of the new public transport services in Vélez-Málaga. He added that Alsa and the town hall have put in a place a system which will economically viable over time.
LAST DITCH BATTLEPSOE to ask government to reject Costa gas prospecting
By David Eade
THE socialists on the Costa del Sol have joined forces in a last ditch effort to pressure the government to call off Repsol's planned prospecting for gas off the coast.
The case is being led by José Bernal, who is a PSOE regional MP in the Andalucía parliament. He is presenting a motion before the regional parliament to ask the central government to remove the authorisation for the drilling next year off the Fuengirola and Mijas shoreline.
The motion has the support of PSOE leaders in towns all along the Costa del Sol. They believe if the drilling goes ahead serious damage will be inflicted on the local tourism sector.
The creation of the parliamentary motion has been used as the catalyst to unite PSOE opposition on the coast to the prospecting project.
Sr Bernal, who is also the leader of the socialists in Marbella, said the presentation and passage of the motion has become urgent after the minister for industry, energy and tourism, José Manuel Soria, recently stated that the prospecting was to start "imminently" and without delay.
Grisly Casares murder comes to trial
Man allegedly cut up victim and threw her into the sea
By David Eade
THE public prosecutor is seeking a 17-year jail term for a man who allegedly murdered the woman he lived with in a flat in Casares.
The grisly crime took place in December 2007. After beating the woman with a broom handle, stabbing her then asphyxiating his victim, he sawed her body into four pieces and dumped the remains in the sea, according to the prosecutor's case summary.
The prosecutor says the two had been together in the Casares flat for several days. The day and time of the crime is not known precisely. However the judicial police are certain that during their time together they had a row which resulted in the woman's death.
During the argument the man is said to have struck his victim with the handle of a sweeping brush and bound her hands with tape. The prosecutor claims the man then stabbed the woman with a knife inflicting wounds on her shoulder and lungs.
However these did not cause her death. With the woman semi-conscious and defenceless he put tape on her mouth and nose and asphyxiated her to death, according to the case summary.
807m security deposit for former employment chief
By Oliver McIntyre
Antonio Fernández is highest ranking Junta official to be jailed in ERE layoffs scandal
THE JUDGE investigating the co-called ‘ERE' case has ordered former Junta de Andalucía employment minster Antonio Fernández to pay an 807 million-euro security deposit against potential civil liabilities in the event he is found guilty for his alleged roll in the scandal, which involves millions of euros of suspected fraud in the Junta's concession of financial aid for laid-off workers.
The huge sum is a security deposit only and does not serve as bail to get Sr Fernández released from prison, where he was remanded in April by the investigating judge, Mercedes Alaya, who believes he played a "principal roll" in the case and has indicted him on charges of bribery, misuse of public funds and document fraud among others.
The deposit payment for Sr Fernández - the first minister-level Junta official to be indicted in the case - is even larger than the 686 million-euro deposit the judge previously demanded from Francisco Javier Guerro, the former director general of employment and social security at the Junta, who she jailed without bail on similar charges in March. The judge has now ordered an embargo on Sr Guerrero's assets, including five bank accounts, to cover the deposit.