Costa del Sol News - 29th April 2013

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Stolen church tapestry recovered three decades after theft

US officials returned the 16th-century artefact to Spain last week

By Oliver McIntyre

AUTHORITIES in the US last week formally handed over to Spain a 16th-century tapestry that was stolen from a Spanish church in 1979.

The tapestry, known as De la Virgen y San Vicente and depicting the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, was stolen along with nearly 30 other items from the old Roda de Isábena cathedral in Huesca, in north-eastern Spain, by storied European art thief Erik the Belgian.

The piece was tracked down by Guardia Civil officers in ‘Operation Telar’, leading to its recovery last November in Houston, Texas, from a merchant who had bought it in good faith for $369,000. The wool and silk tapestry had been listed in a sales catalogue in Brussels in 2010, and US and Spanish investigators determined it had previously been acquired in 2008 by a Beligian gallery owner along with two partners in Milan and Paris.

Summer’s first jellyfish float in

Portuguese man o’ war alerts in Málaga, Vélez, Marbella and Cádiz

By Dave Jamieson and David Eade

BATHERS in Málaga, Vélez-Málaga and Marbella were put on alert at the weekend after a number of jellyfish washed up on local beaches. Málaga town hall said six Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish were collected on Saturday, three on the sand and three by municipal cleaning boats, while many more are reported to have been found along the Vélez coastline.

The councillor with responsibility for coasts in Vélez said 34 examples had been collected on Chilches, Río Seco and Las Palmeras beaches. He said they were about eight centimetres in length with tentacles measuring up to a metre long.

Red flags were flown on many beaches to deter bathers from entering the water, while local police and civil protection patrols issued verbal warnings. Meteorologists said the south-easterly winds over the weekend had encouraged sea water to flow towards the coast, carrying the jellyfish with it.

Intrepid athletes gear up for Ronda’s 101km race

Now in its 16th edition, the gruelling 24-hour race has a waiting list of 20,000

By David Eade

THE 16th edition of the 101-kilometre marathon organised by the Spanish Legion will see 7,800 entrants face the colossal 24-hour challenge. The event will take place over the weekend of May 10 to 12.

The marathon is organised by the Tercio Alejandro Farnesio 4th, the Spanish Legion regiment that is based in Ronda. The event brings together sport, tourism and the environment.

Work underway on 650km Málaga walking route

The full loop throughout the province should be ready by year end

By Oliver McIntyre

WORK is underway on a 650-kilometre circular walking and cycling route throughout Málaga province that is aimed at promoting “culture, history, the environment and active tourism” in the province.

Diputación de Málaga president Elías Bendodo last week presented the 1.12 million-euro scheme, which he said will create 6,500 indirect jobs in inland zones by boosting the accommodation, dining and active tourism sectors among others.

Expropriations launched for high-speed train test track

Minster expects construction to go out to tender by summer

By Oliver McIntyre

THE government has issued official notification of the expropriation of 712 properties totalling 8.2 million square metres for construction of the ‘anillo ferroviario’ high-speed train test track to the north-east of Antequera.

The expropriations, published in Wednesday’s Official State Bulletin (BOE), affect mostly agricultural land in Antequera, Fuente de Piedra, Mollina, Humilladero, Cuevas Bajas, and the Córdoba town of Benamejí.

The publication of the list of properties opened a 15-day public comment period during which affected property owners or other interested parties can file appeals or comments. The list of affected properties can be consulted at the Subdelegación del Gobierno offices in Málaga or Córdoba and the at town hall in each municipality.


Britons with community fee debts are now being tracked down in the UK

By Oliver McIntyre

NEW moves are being taken by communities of owners on the Costa to track down British homeowners who fail to make their community payments – even if it means tracking them down in the UK.

The official College of Property Administrators in Málaga has begun collaborating with a UK law firm specialising in collecting such debts, confirmed a spokesman for the group.

“We are seeing more and more trouble with foreigners having unpaid community fees,” said the spokesman. “Britons used to be quite good with payments but now we are seeing more problems.”

Kidnap gang leader caught in routine traffic stop

Group held 21 people captive in Paris and Luxembourg, say police

By Oliver McIntyre

SIXTEEN alleged members of a kidnapping gang accused of holding a total of 21 people hostage in Paris and Luxemburg have been arrested after the alleged gang leader was caught during a routine traffic stop in Torremolinos. They allegedly used vests strapped with fake explosives to intimidate their victims.

In one of their hits the gang allegedly used a high-class prostitute to woo six businessmen from Morocco to travel to Paris with a large amount of cash for a supposed deal on purchasing computer equipment, said National Police officials. Once there, the businessmen were held captive in a hotel until they paid nearly a million euros to the gang.

Later in Luxembourg, the gang leader, an Algerian man who had escaped from a French prison October 2012, posed as the security chief of an Arab prince in order to convince a group of jewellery and luxury watch dealers to convene for a major purchase he said the prince wanted to make.

Six arrested for police drugs warehouse raid

Police track down the suspects 18 months after theft of 120 kilos of cocaine

By Dave Jamieson

AT least six people have been arrested in connection with the theft of 120 kilos of cocaine from a police warehouse in Málaga 18 months ago. Two were arrested in Marbella and four in Madrid, and all are reported to be Spanish nationals.

On November 13, 2011, a gang thieves disabled security and alarm systems at the store in Málaga’s port area before making off with 162.5 kilos of various substances including cocaine, heroin and designer drugs. The province of Málaga is an important port of entry for cocaine and heroin coming into Spain, and as a result, the amount seized in raids is high.

Shock twist in Marta del Castillo murder case

Convicted killer Miguel Carcaño now says his brother did it

By Oliver McIntyre

FOUR years after her death, the search for the body of murdered Sevilla teenager Marta del Castillo has been relaunched and the brother of her convicted killer has been interviewed by police as a possible suspect in her murder, it was revealed this week.

The radical new twist in the case comes after Marta’s confessed killer Miguel Carcaño – who has been convicted of the murder and is serving a 21-year prison sentence – told police it was actually his brother Javier Delgado who killed her. He has also reportedly taken officers to a property in the Sevilla town of La Rinconada where he says the body was buried after being covered with lime, though initial search efforts in the zone have been unsuccessful.

In the murder trial Sr Carcaño’s brother Francisco Javier Delgado was acquitted as an accomplice in helping to cover up the crime. However, following Sr Carcaño’s new statement to investigators, the police have named Sr Delgado a suspect for the murder, and Sr Carcaño will be called before the court to confirm his statement, after which the judge will decide whether to launch a formal investigation of Sr Delgado on the new charge.

EC pressures Spain for further reforms

Government to present to package of measures on April 26

By Oliver McIntyre

THE European Commission last week pressured Spain to launch further structural reforms, identifying the country along with Slovenia as the two member states whose economies are most at risk due to “excessive imbalances”.

Brussels’ latest turning of the screw comes despite a slew of reforms and austerity measures taken by prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular government over the last year. In its Macroeconomic Imbalances report, the EC recognised the reform efforts Spain has made to date but said more are necessary.

Junta’s eviction protection law takes effect

Measures include temporary expropriation of homes from banks

By Oliver McIntyre

THE JUNTA de Andalucía’s new law aimed at protecting economically beleaguered families from eviction and stimulating the home rental market came into effect last Friday.

The ‘decreto ley’, which was approved by the Junta earlier in the week and published in the official regional bulletin (BOJA) on Thursday, establishes the right of the Junta to temporarily expropriate homes from banks if they evict homeowners who are in economic dire straits.

The goal is to prevent the eviction of people whose financial situation is so grave that the eviction could cause their “social marginalisation or a risk to the physical or mental health,” said Junta officials.

Among the criteria are that the homeowners’ economic situation has significantly worsened since the time they took out the mortgage loan, that the loan payments represent more than a third of their income, and that their total monthly income is less than 1,600 euros.