News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Major drugs bust nets wanted manThe gang's alleged leader, Saoud Rezgani, is sought by the Swedish police
By Dave Jamieson
The Guardia Civil confiscated 1,500 kilos of hashis as well as vehicles, cash and mobile phones
A MAJOR drugs trafficking operation which has been broken up in Málaga and Granada has finally detained an elusive wanted man.
A Guardia Civil officer in Málaga and three other state security personnel are amongst 16 others detained in the seven month investigation which concluded last week.
They include Spanish, British, Russian and Moroccan nationals and are alleged to have imported large quantities of hashish into Spain by sea.
The gang's alleged leader, named as Saoud Rezgani, who was arrested in a city centre car park in Málaga, was described by police as one of the most sought after suspects in Europe.
He escaped from a prison hospital in Sweden in 2003 where he had feigned illness and has been the subject of an international search and detain order.
Rezgani previously evaded a police cordon in Motril and later dodged a Special Intervention Unit of the Guardia Civil brought from Madrid to Nerja in an effort to detain him.
Help us catch the cable thieves, says town hallResidents are being asked to call 092 if they see people manipulating lights or utility boxes
By Oliver McIntyre
BENALMÁDENA residents have been called upon to help authorities stamp out the theft of electrical cable and manhole and utility box covers that have been plaguing the town.
"We need and are asking for the collaboration of all residents who may see people manipulating streetlights or utility boxes in public zones," said the councillor for security, Concepción Tejada, asking that anyone spotting such activity "inform the local police as quickly as possible by calling 092".
Juan Olea, the councillor for municipal maintenance, highlighted the expense and damage caused by the robberies.
"The cost of replacing all these materials is very high, not only the price of the material itself but also the personnel we have to dedicate to repairs or replacements due to these constant thefts," he said.
He also cited the "great nuisance caused to residents," who can be left without electricity or streetlights until the cables are replaced.
Speedy EU reply over Gibraltar border queuesThe Rock is shortly expected to put the frontier queue "live" online 24 hours a day every day
By David Eade
EARLY last week Gibraltar's Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, took the issue of the frontier delays direct to the European Commission and to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
He raised the matter during a meeting with the European Commissioner responsible for the Customs Union and Taxation, Algirdas Semeta. In a dossier submitted to the Commission, it was made clear that the delays occur primarily as a result of the Customs procedure that Spain implements at the border. That meeting took place on the Tuesday and by Friday the Gibraltar government had issued a statement welcoming the offer by the European Commission to facilitate technical talks between Gibraltar, Spain and the UK in order to discuss the practical operation of the frontier. Gibraltar says it is the first time in many years that the Commission has publicly expressed "concern" at the delays and at the "clear inconvenience" which is being experienced by many people on both sides of the border.
The government says it recognises that Gibraltar is not in the Customs Union and that there have to be customs controls between Gibraltar and Spain. It says it is the manner in which those controls are exercised and the practical procedures that are used on the ground that create the problems.
JUSTICE AT A PRICEGovernment stands firm despite clamour over new court fees
By Oliver McIntyre
JUSTICE minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón has stated he will stand firm on the introduction of court fees for individuals filing lawsuits and appeals, despite widespread outcry against measure.
The new fees came into effect last week but are not yet being collected because the Tax Ministry has not got the forms and procedures finalised.
Lawyers, judges, trade unions, practically all political parties other than the ruling Partido Popular, consumer associations and other groups have criticised the fees, which used to be only for companies but have now been increased and applied to individuals as well.
Critics say the fees, which range from 50 to 1,200 euros depending on the type of case, plus a variable amount based on the amount of money involved in the suit, impedes access to justice for people with lower means.
Even stiffer fees apply to appeals against an initial court ruling.
The fee for filing a basic civil lawsuit (the fees do not apply in criminal cases) is 300 euros, plus 0.25 to 0.5 per cent of the amount being sued for, up to a maximum of 10,000 euros.
Costa towns unite to battle 'pirate' taxis
By Oliver McIntyre
TOWNS all along the Costa del Sol are banding together to stamp out 'pirate' taxi services that illegally compete with legitimate licensed cabs.
Last week representatives of the Mancomunidades (associations of town halls) for the western Costa del Sol and the Axarquía met in Torremolinos along with security councillors and local police from towns along the coast, as well as representatives of the regional government and the taxi sector.
The goal of the meeting was to improve coordination between the town halls and the Junta de Andalucía and to work together on joint measures aimed at "eradicating the intrusion of unqualified drivers in the taxi sector," said the president of the western Costa del Sol Mancomunidad, Margarita del Cid.
The pirate taxi services are "a scourge that affects the safety of the clients, the tourism image of the Costa, and the many honest workers who watch as these unauthorised drivers try to take their jobs," she said.