Costa del Sol News - 3rd August 2012

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Over a million visitors flock to CÁdiz's Grand Regatta

The Lord Nelson was one of 50 ships that took part in the bicentenary celebration

By David Eade

THE FINAL figures are not yet in but Cádiz estimates over a million people attended the Grand Regatta held in the port city from last Wednesday to Sunday.

Cádiz staged the spectacular regatta to mark the bicentenary of the first Spanish Constitution, La Pepa, in 1812. Sail International Training agreed to honour Cádiz by making it a venue of the Regata de Grandes Veleros as it did in 1992, 2000 and 2006.

The tall ships, from 15 different countries, started their race in Saint Malo then went on to Lisbon before docking in Cádiz. On Monday they set sail to A Coruña and they will finally end the race in Dublin.

Amongst the grand ships gracing Cádiz's quays was the Lord Nelson (photo on front page) from the Jubilee Training Trust. The trust gives the opportunity to able bodied and handicapped people to work together with the vessel's regular crews on sailing adventures and sea races. However it has to be said the Lord Nelson was dwarfed by giant sailing ships, many from South America. This was appropriate as La Pepa is considered the Magna Carta of Latin American nations. Amongst those to be seen were the school training ship Libertad from Argentina, Colombia's Gloria, Ecuador's Guayas, the Venezuelan ship the Simón Bolivar, as well as Mexico's Cuauhtemoc, Chile's Esmeralda, the Cisne Branco from Brazil, the Capitán Miranda from Uruguay and the Sagres from Portugal.

CAM bosses ordered to pay €25.8m bond

By Alex Watkins

THE HIGH Court has ordered the ex directors of the Caja Ahorros Mediterráneo (CAM) savings bank to put up 25.8 million euros in civil liability between them.

The suspects - ex president Modesto Crespo; ex director generales María Dolores Amorós and Roberto López; and the ex directors of resources and planning Vicente Soriano and Teófilo Sogorb - have been given 15 days to come up with the money otherwise their assets will be embargoed. They are accused of corporate crime, fraud, price manipulation and misappropriation and have denied being responsible for the downfall of the CAM to the judge.

The money is intended to cover any possible fines levied against them and compensation due to clients, should they be found guilty. The figure set by judge Javier Gómez Bermúdez was requested by the financial system restructuring fund (FROB) administrators who have been running the CAM since it was taken over by the Bank of Spain last June. It is more than double the 12 million euros asked for by prosecution lawyer Diego de Ramón. His initial lawsuit against the ex directors was subsequently underwritten by the FROB and the Plataforma CAM representing some 500 clients, including many expats, whose investments lost their value.

Srs López Abad and Amorós also had to hand in their passports as they were considered a flight risk. Plataforma CAM spokesman Carlos Pena told the Costa News the group is also planning to demand further civil liability from the FROB for the further decline in value of clients' investments after it took over the savings bank, and from Banco Sabadell - which subsequently bought out the CAM. The trial will continue after the summer.

British expat arrested for hit and run

The 60-year-old driver, who was over the legal alcohol limit, drove down the wrong side of the road

By Dave Jamieson

A BRITISH motorist who knocked a local town councillor off her moped in Nerja and drove off without stopping was followed home last week by two off-duty National Police officers who witnessed the incident.

The driver, who had been travelling on the wrong side of the carriageway, later tested positive for alcohol.

The accident happened at the entrance to Capistrano Village on the old N340 coast road between Nerja and Maro as councillor Encarnación "Nuchi" Moreno Zorrilla was travelling home from the town hall.

She said she had been travelling behind a vehicle which obscured her view of the road ahead, and which made a sudden swerve to the left to avoid a vehicle approaching on the wrong side of the road. She then also tried to get out of the way but was not so lucky.

The councillor, whose responsibilities include employment, social welfare and health, was taken to the Axarquía hospital in Vélez-Málaga to be treated for multiple cuts and bruises. Despite the strong impact, she said, nothing had been broken, adding, "I have a guardian angel."

The car involved in the incident did not stop and drove on towards Nerja. However, the accident was witnessed by two National Police officers who were on holiday and who followed the vehicle until it stopped outside a house in Calle Úbeda, in the Nerja Golf district.

Search continues for British hiker near Nerja

Gordon Simm, an experienced walker, vanished almost a fortnight ago after setting out on an excursion along the Chíllar river

By Dave Jamieson


MYSTERY still surrounds the whereabouts of a British hill-walker who was last seen in Nerja almost a fortnight ago. Despite daily searches in countryside on the border between Málaga and Granada, no clues have been found about what has happened to Gordon Simm.

The 63-year-old was last seen at 6am on Saturday, July 21, when he set off from his hotel in Nerja for a 20 kilometre excursion along the Chíllar river in the Sierra Almijara to an area known as La Cadena.

His family say that he is physically fit and an experienced walker who knows the area well and always carries a mobile and GPS unit with him. He is known to have taken a taxi as far as the Nerja Caves in Maro from where he set off along the river course on a mountain bike.

Mr Simm's wife told police he had planned to be back by midday on the following day but by late on the Sunday, when he had failed to return, she reported him missing, triggering the search which has gradually become more widespread and involved dozens of police, fire crews, rescue dogs, volunteers and a helicopter.

Last Friday, a team from the Málaga Provinical Fire Service launched an overnight operation using thermal imaging cameras which are utilised to find heat sources. From 11pm to 4am on Saturday, around four hectares of ground was covered along the popular walking trail.

However, there are fears that Mr Simm could have wandered off the main route when fog came down on the mountains early on Sunday and could have crossed the border into Granada. Areas north of Almuñécar including Otivar and Peña Escrita have also been scoured by search parties.

Government to ban abortion for deformed foetuses

Opposition groups criticise planned abortion reform as attack on women's rights

By Oliver McIntyre

DEFORMITIES and defects in the foetus will no longer be considered a legal reason for terminating a pregnancy under a planned reform to the abortion law, according to statements made by the justice minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, in a newspaper interview publish on Sunday.

Deformities and defects are considered a cause for legal abortion not only in the current abortion law passed in 2010 but also under its predecessor, from 1985. Under the 1985 legislation serious deformities of the foetus were among the three circumstances in which a legal abortion could be performed.

"It seems ethically inconceivable that we have been living so long with this legislation," said Sr Ruiz-Gallardón. "I believe the same level of protection given to a foetus with no disability or deformation should be given to those that lack some of the capacities of other foetuses."

The current law allows women to freely choose to terminate a pregnancy up to 14 weeks of gestation, and later into pregnancy under certain conditions including severe anomalies in the foetus. The minister said the reform will aim to move back to system based on specific conditions for legal abortion rather than merely time of gestation.

56% of drivers tested for drugs showed positive

Drug testing campaign was launched on July 9 and will continue to intensify

By Oliver McIntyre

MORE than half of the drivers tested for drugs in the first week of a crackdown campaign showed positive results for illicit drugs, revealed officials last week.

Of the 101 drivers checked for drugs between July 9 and 15, 56% tested positive. In 90 per cent of cases the drug detected was either cannabis or cocaine.

At one checkpoint on the first day of the campaign, a driver who had six bottles of methadone in his car attempted to flee to avoid being tested but crashed into a Guardia Civil motorcycle and was arrested.

Unlike alcohol testing, the drug tests were not completely random; they were administered to drivers who "showed symptoms that led officers to believe the person could be driving under the influence of some type of psychoactive substance," said the interior minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, who presented the figures last week along with Traffic Department (DGT) chief María Seguí.

In contrast, of the 232,000 random alcohol tests administered during the same period, 2,400 drivers blew positive, a rate of just over 1%.

Sr Fernádnez Díaz said the results of the drug testing demonstrated the "good clinical eye" of officers in detecting drivers who might be on drugs, despite the drivers having not committed any traffic offence.

Four killed in raging wildfires in northeast Spain

Man and 15-year-old daughter jump to death off cliff in attempt to escape the flames

By Oliver McIntyre

TWO MAJOR wildfires in Girona, in northeast Spain near the French border, have claimed the lives of at least four people including a father and daughter who jumped to their deaths off a cliff as they were surrounded by flames.

The 60-year-old French man and his 15-year-old daughter were among a number of people who jumped to the sea to escape the flames of a blaze in Portbou on the Costa Brava, the smaller of the two blazes. Dozens of others were injured.

A Spanish man, 75, died of a heart attack after he found his property in Llers surrounded by the flames of the larger fire in the La Jonquera zone, which remained out of control into Tuesday after razing more than 14,000 hectares.

The fourth victim, a 64-year-old French man, died after being hospitalised with burns over 80 per cent of his body.

Police and firefighters have carried out evacuations of some zones while urging people in other areas to stay inside their homes with the doors and windows shut.

The fires started on Sunday - both caused by cigarette butts thrown from car windows - and the smaller Portbou blaze was brought under control by late that night after scorching around 50 hectares. The Junquera fire began to be controlled on Tuesday though firefighters continued efforts to extinguish the flames throughout Wednesday and will carry on today.