Costa del Sol News - 11th March 2013

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Sixty films shot in Marbella in a year

The Marbella Film Office estimates the town has benefitted to the tune of three million euros in indirect international promotion

NEWS Staff Reporter

MARBELLA has always been a popular location for film crews and last year around 60 national and international productions were shot in the jet set resort. Not only is this good publicity for the coast's most glamorous location but the crews, presenters and actors also bring much needed business to local hotels and restaurants.

The majority of productions are for TV, but there have also been plenty of cinema films and adverts. In fact this year got off to a good start with David Beckham filming a commercial for Adidas in Marbella before his high profile signing for Paris St Germaine.

Marbella's Film Office has been instrumental in this success. Answering to the Tourism Councillor at the town hall the office offers a free service to TV and production companies giving them information on locations, acting as go betweens with those who own the property or land, organising the required permits and generally making life easy or easier for them.

Health cuts leave inland towns with 'deficient coverage'

CSIF union's healthcare president in Málaga, Antonio Osorio, said failure to substitute absent staff has become standard, rather than occasional

By Oliver McIntyre

HEALTH cuts are being particularly badly felt in small inland towns of Málaga province as a lack of substitutions for absent staff members leaves some health centres with "deficient coverage" and poses "a risk to the population," said the CSIF public employees union last week.

The union says that given the already minimal staffing levels of the health centres in rural inland areas, un-substituted absences due to holidays or illness can leave some centres "empty and unattended for hours".

The situation arises when remaining staff, working on their own, are called out for an emergency or house call, leaving the centre "unattended," it said in a written release.

Man accused of murdering baby daughter

By Richard Torné

A 22-year-old man was arrested last week and charged with the murder of his eight-month-old daughter. The baby, who has not been named, was admitted to La Inmaculada hospital in Huércal Overa on Saturday, February 23.

She was unconscious and suffering from a fractured skull, but died from her injuries two days later after being transferred to the larger Torrecárdenas hospital in the provincial capital.

The father, identified as Cristian R.S.V., later confessed to the crime after initially claiming the baby had accidentally fallen while he was attempting to bottle-feed her.

Reports say he lost his temper and hit the baby to stop her crying before throwing himself on top of her.

Lightning strikes Álora church

Council technicians inspected the building on Friday and decided to close it to the public while urgent repairs are carried out

By Dave Jamieson

The 16th-century church and convent of Nuestra Señora de Flores in Álora has been closed after it was struck by lightning during a hail storm early last Thursday morning causing serious damage to the structure.

A vertical crack three metres long opened at the top of the main tower structure and in some sections has widened into large gaps.

Municipal technicians inspected the building on Friday and decided to close it to the public while urgent repairs are carried out.

UK and Spanish authorities join forces to beat British benefit fraudsters

The British Embassy in Madrid announces new bilateral agreement

NEWS Staff Reporter

The British and Spanish authorities have joined forces in the fight to bring benefit fraudsters to justice through new information sharing arrangements.

Sharing information, such as deaths of British nationals in Spain, helps the UK to ensure that the pensions and benefits of deceased expatriates are stopped as soon as possible, to avoid large overpayments to benefit recipients that then need to be paid back.

The sharing of information also helps to identify fraudsters who deliberately fail to report the death of a family member to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in order to continue fraudulently receiving the pension or benefit.

One such case involved Michael Higgs and Nancy Rutter who together stole more than £39,000 from the public purse by continuing to draw the benefits of a deceased family member. Data matching between the UK and Spain revealed that Higgs' father had died in Spain in 2005 yet the couple, who were living in Malaga, had failed to notify the DWP of the death.

Thinking they would never be caught, they continued to fraudulently claim the father's benefit. After being found guilty of fraud, and as well as having to pay back the money they had stolen, Higgs was given 18 months in prison and Rutter received two sentences of 30 months and 18 months to run concurrently.

A criminal record can be avoided by keeping the DWP informed of any change in personal circumstances, including the death of a family member who is in receipt of a pension or benefit. Failing to do so can lead to hefty overpayments that will have to be paid back, and even a prison sentence.

For further details on how you can report someone you suspect of committing benefit fraud, visit the Department for Work and Pensions website or call the DWP's free and confidential benefit fraud hotline in Spain on 900 554 440. The UK and Spain are working together to tackle benefit fraudsters.

Croc hunt on

Guardia Civil officers search for a 'large reptile' spotted in Mijas countryside

By David Eade

Authorities are searching for a large reptile, possibly a crocodile or caiman, which was spotted by members of the public near the La Mareina zone of Mijas.

Seprona, the environmental arm of the Guardia Civil, has been searching for the animal for several weeks after receiving what officials called "quite credible" reports from two members of the public who saw the animal on February 9 while riding a motorbike in a countryside area known as Majada Vieja.

The shocked witnesses watched as the creature - which they estimated at two metres long, with a flat head about the length of two hands and teeth visible from the side - crossed the dirt road and entered a manmade pond in the zone.

Guardia Civil officials have notified Mijas, Marbella and Ojén town halls as well as the provincial office of the regional government and its environment ministry. In the report submitted to the town halls Guardia officials say that based on the witnesses' description it is believed the animal may be "a crocodile or a caiman," a type of alligator, confirmed Mijas town hall. The witnesses were clear that the reptile was not a large lizard such as an iguana.

Rajoy promises tougher corruption laws

Meanwhile, more developments in PP corruption allegations

By Dave Jamieson

THE PRIME minister used last week’s State of the Nation debate to promise a new legal framework to tackle political corruption. In a 90-minute speech, Mariano Rajoy vowed to introduce measures to stamp out the public conception of Spanish politics as a culture of profiteering.

“Spain is not sinking in corruption,” he told the house, “and not all politicians are corrupt.” Sr Rajoy said he believed the majority serve the country with honour and announced tough penalties for those shown to be corrupt. This includes jail terms for politicians found taking money illegally and an extension of the statute of limitations for certain offences. He added that his own personal finances would be subject to an audit while he is in office, and afterwards.

A statute of public office will control salary scales, social protection and payments for leaving office, while a new department will deal with cases involving a conflict of interests.

On other topics, the prime minister reiterated that the government’s austerity measures will continue with the aim of meeting deficit reduction targets, saying that Spain has lost enough already and that “not a single moment” would be wasted. He told Congress that Spain’s deficit ended 2012 at a level below seven per cent of GDP, and that his government had made fiscal adjustments which were “unprecedented in the country's history”.

Murder verdicts in Tenerife and Gran Canaria trials

Bulgarian decapitated British woman; British man killed girlfriend

By Dave Jamieson

A 29-year-old Bulgarian drug addict with mental health problems has been found guilty of decapitating a 60-year-old British woman on Tenerife in May 2011. And a 38-year-old British man faces up to 25 years in jail after being found guilty of murdering his girlfriend on Gran Canaria in July 2010.

Friday’s decision by the Tenerife jury at the provincial court in Santa Cruz means that Bulgarian Deyan Deyanov faces 15 to 20 years in a psychiatric unit. During last week’s trial, the court heard that Mr Deyanov suffers from acute paranoid schizophrenia and hears “irresistible” voices in his head ordering him to kill.

The random murder took place in a shop in Los Cristianos where the victim, Jennifer Mills-Westley, lived. She was attacked and killed with a knife normally used for slicing ham, after which, a pathologist said, Mr Deyanov used considerable force to remove her head before carrying it away. He was overpowered and detained after running from the shop.

During summing up last Thursday, Mr Deyanov’s defence lawyer said that responsibility must fall to some extent with the health authorities in the Canary Islands. Francisco Beltran said his client is a sick man, not a criminal, and questioned why he had not been diagnosed and treated properly. Mr Deyanov had been arrested several times for violent behaviour in the months before the murder, and in January 2011 he was committed to a psychiatric unit on Tenerife.