Latest News 102 25-04-2008

Spanish ambassador to seek peaceful solution

The Spanish ambassador to Kenya arrived on Wednesday in the Somali capital Mogadishu to seek the release of 26 fishermen held by pirates. 

According to Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, Spain continues to prepare for a possible military rescue operation, though it was hoping to achieve a negotiated solution, media reported. Moratinos said the kidnappers had not made 'any offer' so far, but it is believed the pirates are seeking a ransom. Ambassador Nicolas Martin Cinto is expected to try to persuade the local authorities not to try to release the hostages by force, after Somali forces rescued a hijacked ship from the United Arab Emirates, arresting several pirates on Tuesday. Moratinos said Spain wanted to free the hostages without putting their lives in danger. The 13 Spanish and 13 African fishermen have been held hostage by a group of pirates since their trawler Playa de Bakio was seized while fishing for tuna in international waters on Sunday. The boat was taken to Somalia, where it was moored at about five kilometres off the coast south of Hobbio, according to press reports. A special operations team comprising 15 combat divers and other specialists was on alert at a south-eastern Spanish naval base, according to the daily El Pais.

The pirates who seized the Playa de Bakio were a well-organized group armed with anti-tank missiles and machine guns, which operated in central Somalia, Abdirahman Salah, information minister of the semiautonomous Puntland region, told the daily El Mundo. It was Puntland forces that rescued the Emirates freighter. Moratinos said Spain would launch an initiative at the United Nations to establish a control and monitoring mechanism in water zones where piracy was a problem.

Radiation Leaks

The leak of radioactive particles from the Ascó nuclear power station (Tarragona) was  more serious than originally revealed. Particles of radioactive cobalt 60 mixed with soil were detected amongst scrap at a waste site in Reus, ten kilometres from the Ascó plant. It is another "mistake", said the director of Radiological Protection of Nuclear Safety Council (CSN), said Juan Carlos Lentijo on Tuesday at a meeting with the president of CSN, Carmen Martinez Diez. Radiation tests have been carried out on nearly 1,000 people, including employees, suppliers and visitors, no contamination has been found. Among those who tested negative were ten, of a group of 44, school children who visited the plant in early April. Ascó  plant manager, Rafael Gasca, and head of Security, Francesc Gonzalez were fired last week over the incident and it is likely the company will be fined up to 30 million euros.

British mafia connection

A 45 year old British woman believed to have connections with the Italian mafia has been arrested in Benidorm. An international arrest warrant for the woman, identified as A.H. was carried out in a hotel at the request of the Italian authorities. She is wanted in connection with extortion, drug trafficking and murder for which she faces 24 years in an Italian prison.


Zapatero in the Eurovision?

SPAIN’S president has been likened to the comical hero of this year’s Eurovision song contest. A MP from the opposition, during a debate concerning industry, called José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero ‘a catwalk president’.

Andrés Ballester (PP) then called him Chikilicuatre, the daft bespectacled protagonist of Spain’s farce entry for the Eurovision.

One of Zapatero’s cabinet called for the MP to apologise, but a PP spokesman said the comments were ‘not insulting’.

Speeding clampdown to cut road deaths

SPEED merchants should be on their guard this week as police will be patrolling 61 points on roads throughout the Alicante province.

Officers expect to carry out random checks on 58,000 vehicles before Sunday, April 27.

Guardia Civil officers have upped reinforcements with some 120 extra staff members on the beat. Six mobile speed cameras have also been set up in accident blackspots.

This radical crackdown has been launched after figures revealed that 24 people died on roads on the Costa Blanca last year through speeding. Those figures did not just include drivers and passengers, according to Encarna Llinares, MP for the Alicante province.

At 30 kilometres per hour, a pedestrian or cyclist run over has a 95 per cent chance of survival. This falls to 50 per cent at 50 kilometres per hour, but at 80 kilometres nobody survives, stresses Llinares.

The Aldajah Reggae Festival celebrates 10 years.

Renowned reggae singer, Jamaican Jah Cure will be joining artists at the 10th Aldajah Reggae Festival in Aldaia. The festival will be held at Crossroads Park on June 21st and will feature bands including Green Valley, Ill. Inspecta, Shabu One Shant & Prince Osito, Stereotone Matador Sound and Monosound. Jah Cure started his music career as a teenager, attaining international fame by the 90’s. Tickets are available from or by calling 902150025.

Beheaded mother ‘feared for her life for years’

A WOMAN whose decapitated head was carried around in broad daylight by her schizophrenic son spent the past seven years fearing for her life, claim those who know her. Teresa Macanás, 56, was reportedly beheaded by her son Angelo Caretanuto, 35, on Tuesday. He was caught by the police walking around the church square in the family’s home town, Santomera (Murcia) later that evening carrying the disembodied head.

According to officers, he was heard to say: “I’ve killed her, I’ve killed her. I love you very much when you’re quiet.”

“This is my mother’s head,” he repeatedly told people who passed him in the street that evening, say police. One of Santomera’s residents called the emergency services on 112 and he was immediately arrested. He refused to give a statement before a judge or to be examined by forensics, say authorities. Teresa’s remains will be identified by her daughter, Caretanuto’s sister, whose name has not yet been revealed. Caretanuto, son of an Italian whom his mother married in Germany in the 1960s, owns the bar Mar de Galilea in Santomera, which was handed down to him by his mother. They were said to be on the premises at the time of the incident.

Sources close to the family say Teresa, who runs a newsagent, appeared on a major Spanish TV station in 2001 declaring that she had been attacked by her son.

“He’s not a bad boy, but what he’s taking makes him bad. He’s destroying our lives and I can’t cope any more. Something really awful is going to happen – I even think he’s going to hit us and kill us,” sobbed Teresa on the programme Gente.

Caretanuto served sentences in 2003 and 2006 in secure psychiatric units for threats and violence towards his mother. In August 2007 a judge placed a restraining order on him preventing him from approaching Teresa, a popular and well-loved member of the community. He is said to have been in psychiatric treatment for several years.

An expert psychologist from the Hospital Vall de Hebrón in Barcelona, Miguel Casas Brugué, raised concerns that this incident could ‘stigmatise schizophrenia’ and ‘create fears surrounding the illness that are far removed from reality’.

Monkey christening could net free ticket

BABY monkeys are to be christened by the public this weekend at Terra Natura.

Visitors to the centre are being invited to choose names for a number of newborn Titi Pigmeo monkeys. The overall winner will net a season ticket to the popular Benidorm theme park and be able to travel round the animal section with the vet to watch him in action with the babies. To take part, visit the complex and pick up a form on the gate.

Entries are being taken until this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, April 26 and 27.

ID theft victim ‘married’ unknown north Africans

A VICTIM of identity theft who is now unable to get married says her impostor celebrated multiple marriages with illegal immigrants. She says the incident has ‘destroyed her life’. The Valencia twenty-something, who prefers to remain anonymous, says her DNI (the Spanish nationals’ NIE) must have been cloned around the time she applied for another, having lost her card. A person posing as her made several huge purchases and was found guilty of polygamy. She married sub-Saharan immigrants for a fee of between 4,000 and 5,000 euros per wedding to obtain them residence rights in Spain. But the real owner of the DNI card started to receive threatening letters from courts, banks and registry offices. She has a debt of more than 22,000 euros that her ‘double’ incurred, and is not able to marry her long-term boyfriend.

Furthermore she is unable to vote since the person using her identity number has signed on the padrón in another area. The usurper is said to have faked payslips and a job contract to obtain a loan to buy a motorbike. The victim’s case is in the hands of a lawyer and she is said to have succeeded in divorcing one of the anonymous sub-Saharans she unwittingly married.

Cervical cancer jabs offered free to teenage girls

TEENAGE girls in the region will all be vaccinated this autumn against cervical cancer in a pioneering move to cut deaths from the preventable disease.

The first-ever immunization against the Human Papiloma Virus will be offered free of charge to all girls born in 1994. Minister of Health Manuel Cervera says the campaign will start in October and finish in June next year. Some 25,000 vaccinations will be given at a cost of 7.5 million euros to the health service.

These are only being offered to teenage girls since they are not recommended under the age of ten or over the age of 25. Cervical cancer kills 77 women annually in the Comunidad Valenciana. It is the only preventable form of cancer and is mostly – but not exclusively – caused by sexual contact. As well as prolonged use of oral contraception and a high number of pregnancies, the disease can also result from changes or abnormalities in the immune system or from smoking. It is caused by the Human Papiloma Virus, an infection that can either clear up by itself or, if left untreated, can lead to cervical cancer within ten to 15 years. All women aged between 20 and 65 are given free smear tests on a bi-annual basis in the region, which are strongly recommended even if they are not sexually-active and have never had children.

Drunk driver causes nine deaths

A coach carrying 47 foreign tourists has overturned killing nine people including a seven year old girl. The coach was carrying Finnish tourists to Malaga airport on Saturday night when it was hit by a jeep. Civil Guard arrested the 24 year old jeep driver at the scene, who later provided a blood alcohol test twice the limit. A further 37 passengers were injured, 19 of them are in a serious condition in hospitals in Torremolinos and Malaga.

Bricks and Stones hurled at Fire fighters

Angry relatives and neighbours bombarded fire fighters with bricks and stones after it took the crews a reported 45 minutes to respond to the initial call.

The fire broke out in the early hours of April 20th; although sources report that it was possible the fire had been burning for a couple of hours before any smoke was detected outside the property. Neighbours called the Emergency services at 7.30am and a council report states that the first crews arrived just 5 minutes after that call. Residents in the area say otherwise, some suggesting it took almost 40 minutes for the first fire truck to arrive, too late to save the Romero family. Antonio, 58; his wife, Dolores P., 55, three of her five children, Jesus, Mary and Jose Maria del Carmen, 25, 18 and 16 years respectively all died in the fire with Mary’s boyfriend, Angel, 18,who was staying with his pregnant girlfriend for the weekend. Trouble broke out when the bodies were removed from the house and neighbours attacked the fire crews, throwing stones and blunt objects. A group of youngsters broke lights and equipment on the fire engine and attacked the driver through the window. The Union of Professional Firefighters has expressed “outrage” at the allegations and stated that the “lynching” of its fire fighters was senseless. 

6,000 euros found and lost.
A high court judge has ordered an investigation into the disappearance of 6,000 euros. The money was found in an envelope by Jose Maria G in Benicassim during 2004. The money was handed in to the Guardia Civil on the understanding that it would be returned had it not been claimed within the 3 year limit. The money was not claimed by the owner, but never returned to Jose. Jose has now taken his claim to the Provincial Court in Castellon. 

Lucky escape

The driver of a car had a lucky escape last weekend when he narrowly avoided being crushed by a falling tree in Valencia. High winds battered the capital felling the tree in Avenida Manuel de Falla. Antolín told Las Provincias "I acted instinctively; I swayed and hit the brakes. Fortunately, no one was behind me only a guy on a motorcycle who was able to avoid me". "The first thing I did was check my passengers were ok and then I called the Emergency services," continued the driver. The road was closed while fire crews removed the car and tree.

Man arrested for slashing tyres

A 28-year-old man has been arrested accused of slashing the tyres of 14 cars in Valencia.

Officers were called to Calle Matematico Marzal and arrested the man who was carrying a knife. He will appear before magistrates charge with criminal damage.

Crew members charge 10,000 euros for stowaways.
The crew of a boat which docked at Alicante port hid four Turkish people on board in exchange for 2,500 euros each. Members of the crew took 10,000 euros from the four stowaways unbeknownst to the ship’s captain. The four were discovered during the journey and the captain locked them in a cabin until they arrived at the port where he contacted National Police. Three of the stowaways have decided to return to Turkey while a fourth has claimed asylum in Spain. The crew has been released on bail.

 Body found in pond

A woman’s body was discovered floating in an irrigation pond in Pilar de la Horadada in Alicante on Monday morning. The handcuffed body was discovered around 8.15 am by the owner of the irrigation pond who called police. Police divers waited for a court order before removing the corpse, which was floating 10 metres from the edge of the pond.

Spanish vessel seized by pirates

A Spanish naval frigate is heading for an area off the Somali coast where pirates have seized a Spanish fishing boat. According to officials the captain of the trawler has reported that all 26 crew are well. The Playa de Bakio was attacked about 250 miles off the coast on Saturday. Somali pirates are demanding a ransom for the release of the Basque tuna fishing boat and its crew. The Spanish trawler's crew consists of 13 Spaniards and 13 Africans. A Basque government source said the trawler was in "international waters" when it was attacked. More than 25 vessels were attacked by pirates in Somali during 2007 which has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years and is plagued by insecurity.

Climate change will reduce water resources

Experts have warned that the Comunitat is facing a desertification process due to the gradual reduction of rainfall. A group of researchers from the University Juame I (UJI) in Castellon lead by Professor, Jose Quereda are carrying out research to determine the effects of climate change on the River Jucar. Initial findings suggest that there will be a 20% decline in water resources by the year 2020. The investigation by the UJI was part of an Intergovernmental Climate Change Panel (IPPC).  The panel stressed in their report that the Mediterranean region is the most vulnerable in Europe to the effects of climate change with increasing temperatures of between 3°c and 4°c by the year 2025.

Water Tips

Residents in 79 towns in Alicante, Murcia and Albacete have been asked to refrain from using tap water for plants and gardens. The initiative affects 2.5 million people in numerous towns including Alicante, Sant Vicent del Raspeig, Elche, Santa Pola, Crevillent, Aspe, Hondón de las Nieves and the Vega Baja area. Aguas de Alicante are calling for “responsible water consumption” and are offering tips to residents including using well or treated water for gardens and plants. If using a hose set a timer so you know how long the water as been running, check hose connections for leaks and water either early in the morning or late at night to prevent evaporation. The president of the Association of Channels of Taibilla, Isidoro Carrillo, has advised that water prices will rise again in the summer.


More money for the Montgó

THE Montgó mountain nature reserve will benefit from a massive cash boost this year.

Conservation, protection, studying flora and fauna and improving walking routes are among the projects that will receive a cash injection of 1.675 million euros this year.
This is a 65 per cent increase on last year’s investment.
The money will be used to help prevent forest fires, set up buoys in the Cabo de San Antonio to help preserve the sub-aquatic Posidonia plant, and carry out studies on endangered species of plants and wildlife.

Skyscraper will be a tourist magnet, claim developers

IN an attempt to rival Benidorm’s Hotel Bali – the tallest in Europe – a 50-storey skyscraper is about to go up in neighbouring Villajoyosa.
Plans have not yet been approved but developers Casinos del Mediterráneo are quietly confident that they will be given the green light. The site in question has a casino on it, but this is owned by the developers who hope to be able to increase its height by a whopping 50 floors. They say it will attract tourists for at least another 30 years.
This news came as a surprise to residents since an ongoing legal battle that started in 2004 led to several floors of the massive Hotel Atrium being taken down.
A court ruled that it exceeded the maximum height permitted, and the promoters faced a fine running into millions of euros.

Sliproad closed due to dangerous cliff-face

DANGER from falling rocks has led to the sliproad into Calpe from the Altea end being closed off for three weeks. According to the ministry of public works, the gota fría last October left the mountainside by the N-332 near Calpe in a hazardous condition.
Unless works are carried out immediately, they fear the cliff-face could crumble and pose a threat to drivers. Anyone wishing to travel to Calpe between now and the middle of May should enter the town by the north sliproad, coming from the Teulada direction.
In the meantime, works are being carried out between C/ La Niña and Plaza Colón to reinforce the river banks. Last October, the river burst its banks and completely flooded the town.

Dad of two dies in Oliva work accident

A FATHER of two who killed at work in Oliva caused shockwaves to ripple through the town on Tuesday. Domingo Sempere Alcaraz, 41, was working on a lorry near the Casa Clara restaurant on the N-332 when the aerial touched a high-voltage electricity cable.
Local Police, Guardia Civil officers and paramedics rushed to the scene but were unable to save him. Domingo’s wife was out shopping at the time of the incident and one of his daughters had gone to a friend’s house for lunch. The news of his death had to be broken to them by friends of the family, who were visibly shaken by the turn of events.
A representative from the general workers’ union (UGT) says it intends to investigate the cause of the accident. Fatalities on construction sites occur almost daily in the Comunidad Valenciana and the figure is steadily increasing.
In the summer, two men lost their lives when they were crushed under tonnes of concrete whilst working on the Beniopa bridge near Gandia.

Husband caught red-handed abusing four-year-old stepson

A 27-YEAR-OLD man who was caught by his wife sexually assaulting his stepson has been imprisoned pending trial. The mother, who is described by residents of her Alicante neighbourhood as ‘delightful’, ‘charming’ and ‘hard-working’, said she became suspicious some months ago when her four-year-old son’s behaviour radically changed.
She said he stopped talking altogether and would moan and point when he wanted something. He would also cry silently for no apparent reason and at times became violent. Last week, the woman caught her husband performing sexual acts on the little boy. He threatened her with violence if she left the house or tried to contact the police.
But his wife rang the National Police immediately who attended the family home and arrested her husband.
The couple have two children together, a young baby and a toddler. 

Kidnapped teens kept as sex-slaves
SIX people, including a girl of 18, have been arrested in Altea in on suspicion of forcing two teenagers to prostitute themselves. Guardia Civil officers say the girls, who were underage, were made to sell their bodies on the N-332 near the entrance to Alfaz del Pi.
They were caught a month ago during a random check by police, whose suspicions were raised by the victims’ youthful appearance. Officers requested identification but later investigations revealed their dates of birth had been altered on their documents.
Authorities in Romania, their country of origin, were alerted.
Their captors were traced to a house in Altea and three women aged 18, 22 and 23, plus three men were taken into custody. The victims are residing in a young person’s shelter awaiting repatriation while two of the men have been imprisoned pending trial.
Comunidad left out of Ebro plans, despite drought
FACED with a water shortage due to ongoing droughts in the two regions, the governments of the Comunidad Valenciana and Comunidad de Murcia have complained about plans to divert the Ebro river. Although both regions have been campaigning for this to be carried out to provide water – which is particularly scarce in summer – the central government and that of Catalunya have always been dead against the plan.
But now they intend to divert the river to supply the city of Barcelona with drinking water, leaving Murcia and the Comunidad Valenciana out of the equation.
The presidents of both regions – Francisco Camps and Ramón Luis Valcárcel – have announced plans to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.

Dénia-Ibiza ferries crash mid-sea

TWO ferries travelling from Dénia to Ibiza collided mid-sea in the early hours of Saturday morning. One of the 183 passengers on board the Manuel Azaña said his ship sounded the siren three times shortly before the Carmen del Mar smashed into the side of it at 00.45am. The ships were waiting in the water for more than an hour before emergency services were able to finish temporary repairs on the crushed railings at the side of the Manuel Azaña allowing it to continue on its journey.
Nobody was injured, but the National Commission of Sea Traffic Accident Investigation intends to call in both captains to give their version of events.
The Commission also reveals that Iscomar and Baleària ferries are tracked by satellite and have a black box similar to those used on aeroplanes, meaning they will be able to see a replay of events that led up to the crash.
Construction may begin before the summer.   photo torent shopping

With just one month to go before work begins on the Altrium Shopping Centre in Torrent the project has gone on public exhibition. If no objections are received the council will grant permissions and allow construction work to commence. The only major hold up has been over the access to the centre from the main road, which has now been resolved with the construction of a new road to prevent traffic queues from forming at the Parc Central roundabout. The centre will offer 14,400 square metres of shops and restaurants.                   Also planned is a 5 screen cinema and an 80-room hotel. The Coperfil group is investing 15 million euros into the construction of the centre.

Mayor removed from office

Olleria Mayor Vicent Llop, was dismissed from office on april 12th after three political parties in L´Olleria presented a censure motion against the Mayor of the PP.  The Bloc, Gent de l´Olleria and the PSOE stated that they “had lost confidence in Mayor Llop” who had been in office for the past 13 years. Julia Engo took over as Mayor and has the principal objective of “finding a solution to the untenable civic paralysis”. Vicente Llop described the act to be “unfortunate” and has accused the opposition of “preparing this censure motion” since July 2007. The leader of the PP confirmed that “Vicent Llop is not finished as a politician and remained a worthy representative”. Gent de LÓlleria spokesman, Jose Vidal will relieve Julia Engo of her duties in 2010.  
Visits to “Edeta”

Lliria tourist agency now includes tours of the Iberian city `Edeta´ a key part of Llirian history”. Tours begin with a walk to the Tossal de Sant Miquel on the Costa Revessa, where visitors can enjoy the marvellous panoramic views of the old Edetanian territory and visit continue on to different sites in the north of the town. Next tour dates are on May 17th and  June 21st. If you would like to take part you must arrive at the Tourist Information office, Plaza Mayor 1, in Lliria for 11am. It is not necessary to register, but it is advisabe so that you can be notified should there be any changes or cancellations. For more information call 962791522
Cyclist dies in Ontinyent
A 39-year-old cyclist died after crashing his bike outside the towns sports centre. The man, from Bocairent, was cycling along calle Santa Teresa when it is believed he suffered a seizure and lost control of his bike. He was taken to Ontinyent General Hospital where he later died.  

Did the earth move for you too?
Residents in Ontinyent, Bocairent, Alcoy and Vallada were woken in the early hours of Friday morning by an earthquake. According to the National Geographic Institute, the epicenter in Bocairent registered 2.4 on the ritcher scale. The seismic movement was recorded at a depth of 14 metres, but did not cause any damage.
CEVA criticize cleaning in natural park
Cleaning of a ravine in Bocairent by the Jucar River Basin Authority has caused outrage from the Coordinator Ecologist of Vall d'Albaida (CEVA). According to environmentalists the area of approximately 1000m2 was cleared incorrectly and at an inappropriate time when many birds were breeding and nesting. The stretch of ravine has been totally cleared of all vegetation, shrubs and mature trees. The effect leaves not only an ugly blot on the landscape, but soil which is now open to erosion.  

68-year-old man dies in Accident.
A man aged 68 died after a traffic accident when driving with his motorcycle on the highway CV-655, which from Ontinyent to Fontanars.The accident occurred around 1pm on Sunday the 14th of April when the motorbike collided with a car for causes that have not yet been materialized. When the ambulance arrived they could only confirm the death of the victim.

Forest Fire Arrests.
Three farmers have been arrested in connection with forest fires between April 1st and 15th. The arrests came after an investigation by the Guardia Civil. All three fires were as a result the famers burning tree cuttings in Ayora, Chelva and Almassera.  
New April Fair
Plaza de Concepción will be transformed over the weekend of April 25th and 26th for Ontinyent’s “April Fair”. This new celebration has been organized by four comparsas from the Moors and Christians with support from the Festero society. Moor Capitan, Enrique Mico, explained “there will be snacks and drinks for sale as well as the chance to ride on a horse and cart ”. Dancers from Opera and Masters dance schools will perform accompanied by Ad Libitum. Events on Friday 25th at 8pm with the official opening followed by dancing and music until 1am. Horse and cart rides will be available from 8pm until 1am on Friday and from midday until midnight on Saturday, at a cost of 15 euros per ride (6 people). On Saturday 26th the fayre will open at 11am and there will be a performance by the Equestrian School `Peluca´ at 6.30pm in the Glorieta park.




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