Friday, 28 March 2008

Santiago del Valle García, imprisoned without bail by the judge in the Court of First Instance in Huelva charged with murder of Mari Luz


Santiago del Valle García, has been ordered to prison without bail by the judge in the Court of First Instance in Huelva on charges of murder of Mari Luz and and against sexual freedom.. The judge told him that he must also serve the two years and nine month sentence handed down against him in 2006 by the Court of First Instance in Sevilla for abusing his own daughter.The judge also ordered prison without bail for Rosa del Valle, his sister who had also been arrested along with his wife and a brother. The wife, Isabel García, was released with charges after making her statement to the Instruction judge and is now reported to be staying outside the Huelva province. Santiago and Rosa left the Huelva Court at a quarter to one this morning, bound for the jail in Huelva.Meanwhile the General Council for Judicial Power (CGPJ), the body which oversees the judiciary in Spain has opened an investigation as to why the alleged killer of Mari Luz had not served a single day in jail, despite two prison sentences against him. The latest was the 2 year 9 month sentence handed down against him by the Court of First Instance in Sevilla for the sexual abuse of his own five year old daughter. There was a second earlier sentence also, for two years in jail, handed down for the sexual abuse of a nine year old girl who he surprised on the stairs of her home, which he also somehow escaped serving.It appears the official reason was that his ‘whereabouts were unknown' and had also appealed against the second sentence which had allowed him to avoid being placed inside. He had claimed that it was a gymnastics teacher who had abused his daughter, and not him, presenting a fake medical report at the time to support his case.The court documents from Sevilla at the time make dramatic reading. Público quotes them as saying ‘On several occasions the accused, dropping his trousers, would make his daughter touch his member with her hands, and on other occasions he would masturbate while he touched her genital region. The mother was often present while this took place, and despite the opposition of the child who complained to her father that it hurt, never did anything to stop it taking place’. The court documents note that the mother, Isabel García, has an I.Q. of only 47, and she was clearly under the manipulative influence of her husband. The Sevilla court documents also indicate that Santiago del Valle suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, but also that the judge considered that when he abused his daughter he knew exactly what he was doing. The couple’s son and daughter, now aged 9 and 15, are in the care of foster families.
There is also a third case of a 13 year old girl in Gijón, against whom he was handed down a distancing order after he had been chatting to her on the internet and proposed sexual relations. The girl’s mother discovered the plan and informed the police in that case.
The Government Delegate for Andalucía, Juan José López Garzón, commented that it was not for the police or the government to comment on the situation, and he was not going to make a judgement. He called for calm from the local population. However López Garzón did not deny that there was a search and capture order in place against Santiago del Valle since 2006.
It appears that the Police investigators into the Mari Luz case knew nothing of this however, and were unaware that he lived less than 100 metres away from where she disappeared. However the local residents of this tight-knit community did know about Santiago del Valle’s past, and a few hours after Mari Luz vanished they had informed the missing girl’s parents.
El Mundo reports that several people from the neighbourhood, including Mari Luz’s father, Juan José, and some of her uncles, forced their way into Santiago del Valle’s home, taking some papers on the same day that the child had vanished, knocking down the door in search of the youngster. This led the man who is now charged with the child’s murder to call the police for help. The police went to the home and initially thought it was a simple case of breaking and entering, deciding to put off making full enquires until the next day. When they returned, Santiago del Valle and his family had gone, and it was only some time later that police joined the dots in the case and realised that they were dealing with a known paedophile with a previous record.

According to the site of the Spanish newspaper ABC, Santiago del Valle, confessed to the police that he "touched" Mari Luz on the day of her death. There are no official confirmations on the details of the confession, however, judicial sources advance that the suspect confessed to be obsessed with the girl. Mari Luz was lured to the house of Santiago with a toy and then he touched the 5 year old girl in the buttocks.
Rosa del Valle was living with the brother Santiago and his wife, Isabel, in the district El Torrejón up to the date of the disappearance of Mari Luz (13th of January). Rosa is detained by suspicion of having transported the body of the girl in her blue Hyunday. Compromising evidences were found in a wet cardboard that was in the luggage of her car. The neighbourhood in Huelva thinks that she was ‘weird’. They say, for example, that she had the routine of washing her car in the night. After his arrest on Tuesday, Santiago del Valle said he had invited the child into his house and attempted to abuse her, but she struggled and accidentally fell down the stairs and was killed. He also admitted that he had put his hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. The post mortem showed that she had died of asphyxiation. Frightened and with fear of being incriminated, he launched Mari Luz body to the river Huelva.It was reported that del Valle had a pending prison term of more than two and a half years for the sexual abuse of his young daughter, who was the same age as Mari Luz when the abuse took place. He was originally sentenced in 2002, and the sentence was confirmed by a higher court at the end of 2005.It’s understood that his wife, who was released with charges in the Mari Luz investigation, was also sentenced in that previous case, and that the couple tried to blame a gym teacher for the abuse suffered by their daughter.
There was no warrant out for his arrest in connection with the sentence, Europa Press reports, but a Seville court had issued an order in March 2006 to locate his whereabouts after ruling that he should serve the term. Juan José López Garzón, central government delegate for Andalucía, told the news agency that del Valle has been under watch by police since the beginning of the investigation into Mari Luz’s disappearance. National Police have also confirmed that they received no warrant for his arrest, and noted that there was insufficient evidence to charge him when he was originally questioned in the investigation.Del Valle was sentenced by another court in Seville for abusing a nine year old girl, and received a two year suspended sentence in that case.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Five-hundred and seventy eight women have been murdered by their husbands or ex-husbands in Spain.


The ex boyfriend of a woman found dead in Asturias on Friday is reported to be in custody A man reported by Cadena Ser as an ex boyfriend has been arrested for the murder of Patricia Fernández Guzmán, whose burnt body was found dumped on an illegal rubbish tip near a disused mine in Asturias on Friday. Her body was found on the tip in Ciaño, a district of Langreo, and it was later discovered that she had been reported missing by her family on the day she disappeared. The 22 year old lived at the family home in Sama, also in Langreo, and worked in a local hairdresser’s.
The Civil Guard in Gijón said she was stabbed before her body was thrown onto the tip and set alight.If Patricia’s death is confirmed as a domestic violence death it will be the third in Spain in recent days, after two more fatalities in Almería province and Tarragona last week. In Albox, Almeria, a local policeman, named with the initials J.J.A. shot his wife with a shotgun, before committing suicide by turning the gun on himself. It happened on Thursday afternoon in the family home, with the authorities alerted by the couple’s daughter who found the bodies. The man was still alive when the medics arrived, but he died in hospital in the early hours of Friday morning. Apparently he was off work because of some psychological problems and his regulation firearm had been taken from him.In the centre of Tarragona on Thursday night, a 27 year old Moroccan woman, named as Sanaa Haddadi, was stabbed several times by a man, also thought to be Moroccan who fled the scene. A large scale police search has been established in the area for a 26 year old man who is said to have been in a relationship with the victim.
Murders of women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, have become known worldwide. During the last 10 years, over 400 women have been murdered in the region, according to Amnesty International.
While the violence against women in Mexico is well-known, people would be dismayed to know that Spain has an even higher murder rate due to domestic violence. Five-hundred and seventy eight women have been murdered by their husbands or ex-husbands in that same period of time in Spain. Governmental measures, such as creating the Courts for Violence Against Women in 2004, a special court that only handle cases of domestic violence, haven’t helped solve a problem that is deeply rooted in Spanish society. Each day more and more people get used to reading stories of domestic violence in the news: When online news sites pull down the story of the last woman killed, a new murder is committed. According to advocates, because of the lack of pressure by the Spanish justice system, authorities and society, domestic violence has been an ongoing problem in Spain, to the extent that even those women who denounced their husbands didn’t get any help or protection. It is not difficult to find cases in which the woman had previously made several reports to the police, got a restraining order against the husband or started the legal process to get a divorce and got killed before the papers were signed. Also, Spanish violence analysts have noted similarities among murders committed close in time. Experts have even advised that media coverage is not helping. The everyday presence of murders in the news, instead of telling the public how big the problem is, has spread the knowledge of how many people are accused of domestic violence for years without showing up at the court room. On Feb. 26, four women died. The presidential campaign for the March 9 general elections was held at that time, but domestic violence wasn’t a big issue on the candidates’ agendas. It took the deaths of four victims within a 24-hour time span for them to initiate discussions about how they were going to re-educate a society that has overlooked this problem for too long, how to better protect the victims and even help those men who have requested attention from psychiatrists and got a sad “we are not ready for this” as a response. Considering that all the details the news media are offering about each and every homicide are having a negative effect, the Spanish government has had informal meetings with editors aiming to find a better way to report the cases. The goal is to report on the penalties and sentences for those who are accused of domestic violence and have a restraining order, instead of reporting on the details of the crime.
As vice president Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega expressed, the details reporters are offering are leading the problem toward the wrong direction. For example, one of the changes they are trying to introduce is that the media stop referring to these cases as “woman murdered by her husband” and just say that a woman has been killed.
In a different approach to the problem, the Spanish socialist government of Rodriguez Zapatero has been reinforcing measures that support equality between men and women for the last four years. When President Zapatero presented his first governmental team, it was the first time in the history of Spain that there were as many men as women in the highest positions. In 2007, the Spanish Congress approved the Law on Equality. With the Popular Party, the second major political party in the country voting against it, the socialists managed to pass a measure that requires companies to name the same number of men and women in the higher management positions.With examples like these and the news media involvement, the Spanish government and society are looking forward to a future where people are no longer desensitized to the domestic violence issue after finding the same story over and over in the news and share the efforts to reduce the number of victims to zero.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Mari Luz Cortes Questions remain where Santiago del Valle Garcia was on the day Madeleine disappeared from her Algarve holiday flat.


The questions remain where was 52-year-old Spaniard Santiago del Valle Garcia was on the day Madeleine disappeared from her Algarve holiday flat. Garcia was detained yesterday in Portugal, on suspicion of killing five-year-old Mari Luz Cortes.
Four people have been indicted in connection with the death of 5-year-old girl Mari Luz Cortes, whose disappearance shocked Spain, police said Wednesday. The main suspect was a man with a criminal record for sexual abuse of children, who lived near the family of Mari Luz in the southern city of Huelva. Those indicted included the man and his wife, who were detained near Cuenca in central Spain, as well as the man's brother and sister. The wife was released with charges. The man was believed to have taken Mari Luz to the couple's home, where she fell down the stairs and died accidentally, after which the other suspects helped the man get rid of the body, according to television reports. The girl's body was found floating in a river on March 7 after two months of searches. An autopsy showed that she had not been sexually abused.The man, a known paedophile named as Santiago del Valle Garcia, lived locally in the Torrejón area and had been a suspect of the family from the start
A man, who was arrested in Spain yesterday is reported to have confessed to his involvement in the death of Mari Luz Cortés, the five year old girl who vanished in Huelva on January 13. The man, named by the victim’s father Juan José, as Santiago del Valle Garcia , lived locally in the same Torrejón district of the city, but has recently moved to Cuenca with his wife to avoid reprisals.The suspect, who has a previous criminal record for child sexual abuse, was arrested with his wife in Pajaroncillo, a village in Cuenca province. Canal Sur reports that his sister has also been detained by the police.Known as the Spanish Madeleine in the British press, she vanished when going to buy some crisps on the previous January 13 in the Torrejón district of Huelva. Her body finally appeared floating in the Ria de Huelva on March 7.
Reporting restrictions remain in force in the case, but the child’s father, Juan José Cortés, told the Huelva Infomación newspaper that the man is called Santiago, lived locally and has a criminal record for child and sexual abuse. He said that the family had suspected him from the very first moment in the case.
‘We know that it is him, we are sure, and this is no surprise to me’, said the father this morning.Europa Press reports that the arrested man has now confessed, to the police but not to a judge, to his involvement in the disappearance of the five year old, but says that she died accidentally. According to his statement to police, he said that she fell and died accidentally when she was with him ‘at her own choice’. The paper reports that this man had been arrested earlier in Granada just a few days after Mari Luz vanished, and was released on a lack of any evidence.
Police say that they are sure that the man is responsible for the death of the child, and they believe that the motive was sexual. He is also reported to have a distancing order in place against his own children. The analysis from the police forensic department indicates however that the man could not manage to sexually force himself on the child.Spanish news also reports that a couple has been arrested in connection with the death of 5-year-old girl Mari Luz Cortes, whose disappearance shocked southern Spain, police said Wednesday. The detainees lived in the same neighbourhood in the city of Huelva as Mari Luz's family. The circumstances of the death of Mari Luz, whose body was found floating in a river on March 7 after two months of searches, have been unclear. The case of Mari Luz has been compared with that of 4-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann, who went missing on May 3, 2007, in a southern Portuguese holiday resort not far from where Mari Luz disappeared. The fate of Madeleine, who made headlines all over the world, has not been clarified

Monday, 24 March 2008

Moroccan customs officers have stepped up there hunt for drug smugglers in Tangiers

Moroccan customs officers have stepped up there hunt for drug smugglers in Tangiers, a short ferry hop from Europe's profitable shores.Smugglers coming through the northern port know they can't simply conceal their contraband under the floor or in the doors of their vehicle -- even behind the instrument panel or inside the petrol tank would be naive.Instead they are finding more and more ingenious places to hide their drugs or ways to fool the officials.The country's record haul for hashish seizures in 2007 suggests the law enforcers are at least keeping pace with a growing band of smugglers.In hundreds of operations last year, officers seized a total of 35 tonnes of hashish worth an estimated 140 million euros (215 million dollars) on the European market. That was more than 25 percent up on 2006.
Morocco's customers officers also arrested 437 people, half of them foreigners. Spanish nationals topped the list at 78, followed by 61 French nationals and 22 Portuguese.But Abdelhalek Marzouki, the director of customs for northern Morocco, admits that despite his team's apparent successes the smugglers learn quickly from their mistakes.Their capacity to innovate has been a source of constant surprise, he said. "They monitor how we operate in order to come up with new methods."Marzouki tells the recent story of one officer who, alerted by a tiny trace of welding near a vehicle's clutch, followed his instincts to discover a whole string of cannabis bricks, strung together like sausages.Officers have also discovered drugs inside the tyres of vehicles and even car batteries stuffed with cannabis resin.Another smuggler tried to disguise his haul as a cargo of olives, painting his drugs green and adding fake stalks.Every year, customs officers at Tangiers have to deal with a steady flow of foreign-registered vehicles: 380,000 cars and 80,000 lorries.
To get there, many will have passed through the northern Rif mountains, where according to government figures producers grow 1,200 tonnes of cannabis resin for export.In a vast car park, officials send about half the lorries past two scanners that check for hidden cargo.When it comes to the cars however, it's about instinct and experience, said Marzouki. The main tools of their trade, are "a screwdriver, a pair of sharp eyes and an extraordinary sixth sense."Any officer worth his salt knows there is no such thing as a typical smuggler, he added. "They are young people and the less young; couples or pretty girls," he explained.

"Before they didn't search luxury cars because they thought that smugglers wouldn't waste their money on that kind of vehicle, but recently they have been leasing them."
This year, officers even arrested a Spaniard travelling with his wife, his mother and their two little girls in a camping car.He tried to bluff his way through by flashing an out-of-date Spanish police identity card, clearly hoping that officials would not look twice at a family of holidaymakers.He was wrong and officers found him in possession of 1.3 tonnes of hashish.For France's consul general Alain Bricard, smugglers who use their own children to try to fool the police are beneath contempt.Last summer, he had to look after two twin girls and also a young boy after their respective parents were arrested on smuggling charges.For a week, these children were without a familiar face until relatives could get over from France to fetch them."I have the sad distinction of having under my consular (jurisdiction) the largest number of French prisoners in the world," he said.At present a total of 98 French nationals including six women are serving time in Moroccan prisons, he said.Tangiers prosecutor Echafi Abdelkrim said a large part of his time was spent with drugs cases."Foreign smugglers know they are playing with fire and that the trap can close on them because these are international networks who are using them to feed the foreign markets," he said.For those that get caught the cat-and-mouse game can turn nasty as they face up to 10 years behind bars.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Moroccan drug baron was jailed along with the former head of Tangier's judicial police after a lengthy trial

The dark green fern-like plant grows well in poor soil of the northern Rif mountains and has come to be known as "green gold" because it staves off grinding poverty for thousands of local families.Smugglers hide the drug in containers and trucks or use powerful speedboats to ship it to Barcelona in Spain or Marseille in France.

Casablanca court jailed Mohamed Kharraz, better known as Cherif Bin Louidane, for eight years, the government said on Thursday. It ordered 5.2 million dirhams of his fortune to be seized and fined him 500,000 dirhams.Moroccan drug baron was jailed along with the former head of Tangier's judicial police after a lengthy trial that pitted the Rabat authorities against powerful interests in the kingdom's northern cannabis growing region.Judicial police officers grabbed Kharraz in August 2006 at the Al Ghouroub (Sunset) cafe near the northern port city of Tangier, acting on a warrant issued after a separate drugs trial years earlier, newspapers said.
The arrest surprised locals for whom Kharraz had seemed virtually immune from the law and benefited from a reputation for generosity among the poor of a region neglected for decades by the central government, the papers said.
He named over 30 members of the security services as being implicated in the drugs trade including Abdelaziz Izzou, head of the Tangier judicial police from 1996 to 2003, who was suspended from his job as head of security at Morocco's royal palaces.
Izzou was imprisoned for 18 months and had 700,000 dirhams seized by the state. Two others were jailed including Kharraz's brother while nine people were acquitted including another top former Tangier police official, the government said.
Those imprisoned were found guilty of offences including international drug trafficking, abuse of power, incitement to illegal immigration and failing to report crimes.Morocco had aimed to erase its cannabis industry by this year, a campaign given added momentum by suspicions that hashish was used to partly pay for dynamite that blew up trains in Madrid in 2004, killing 191 people.But the north African country is still the world's biggest hashish producer.Moroccan customs said drugs with a value of 30 million dirhams were seized at the port of Tetouan near Tangier last year, up six times from a year earlier.But catching the top criminals and keeping them behind bars is still proving difficult.
Last year drug lord Mohamed El Ouazzani, known as El Nene, was allowed to stroll out of prison and probably fled to Spain to avoid serving the rest of an eight-year prison sentence. Six prison guards were jailed for allowing him to escape.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

British man from South Shields was being held in a Spanish police cell last night


British man from South Shields was being held in a Spanish police cell last night, accused of trying to smuggle more than half a tonne of cocaine through the Mediterranean.The 50-year-old South Shields man, named only by his initials RPJ, was held after undercover officers from both Spain and Portugal intercepted a shipment from the West African country of Gambia.The 514kg of cocaine, concealed in paper handkerchiefs and worth more than £21.5m on the streets, was identified first by Portugese authorities when the freighter arrived in Lisbon.The drugs were in packages found within boxes marked ‘Comfort tissues by Gardenia’ – a South African tissue firm that is not being investigated by police. Yesterday a Spanish police spokesman said: “In the search that took place of the industrial unit, it was verified that there were numerous boxes of handkerchiefs that corresponded to two dispatches done previously, which possibly relate to verifying ‘signals’, regular methodology in drug traffic network systems when they open a new drug entry route.They removed the drugs from the container and then allowed it to be transferred on to a lorry, which continued under surveillance to south eastern Spain, where the 50-year-old was arrested.Detectives said last night they believed the route taken by the smugglers was a new one for shipments from Columbia into Europe.‘Operation Paper’ was launched after customs officials in Lisbon became suspicious of the container when it arrived from Gambia on February 29.After inspecting it, 470 parcels of cocaine were detected, hidden in 352 boxes of the paper handkerchiefs.A simultaneous undercover operation was launched by police in Spain who kept watch on the Torres industrial estate unit in Villajoyosa, Alicante, where the goods were destined.Meanwhile, the truck’s journey from Lisbon to Alicante was shadowed by Spanish police and officers swooped to arrest the Tynesider as he took delivery of the container.When they searched the warehouse, officers also found two other consignments of paper hankerchiefs, indicating that the smugglers had previously carried out two dummy-runs on the new route before sending the cocaine.Officers are not ruling out further arrests in the case, as they continue to analyse the shipping route and associates of ‘RPJ’.Detectives told reporters in Spain they believe the arrested man would have sent the cocaine on to the UK where it would be expected to fetch £21,588,000 on the streets.“The operation is still open and further arrests are not discounted, since documentation obtained in the registers is been analysed in the hope of identifying other members of the traffic network.”

Monday, 17 March 2008

Gibraltar non co-operatation in Spain’s fight against money laundering


The government of Spain has requested has requested the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) to return Gibraltar to its list of non-cooperative off-shore financial services centre because of its ‘opacity’ and its location close to the Costa del Sol, as part of Spain’s fight against money laundering.The OECD has so far considered the Rock ‘co-operative’ because of its ‘commitment to European law and response to recommendations made by international organizations such as the International Financial Action Group.Nevertheless, Spain alleges that Gibraltar makes no effort to co-operate with the fiscal services of its northern neighbour, despite the fact that the British Colony is in a ‘risk zone’ between Southern Spain and Northern Africa, as well as close to the Costa del Sol, where ‘real estate’ corruption, money laundering and drug trafficking are present.Over the last few years, Gibraltar has become a ‘paradise’ for online gambling, which is also a worry for experts in money laundering techniques, and is an international financial centre that is ‘not as modest as the Gibraltar authorities insist on saying.
The Rock has close to 30,000 inhabitants, yet is home to 19 banks, 10 branches of international organizations, 17 insurance companies, over 30 insurance brokers, 30 investment companies, 15 money exchange offices and 28,000 active companies of various denominations. Spain considers these facts as contributing to the colony’s ‘opacity’ and puts forward an example: neither Britain nor Gibraltar were willing to co-operate with investigations into the ‘Ballena Blanca’ case uncovered in Marbella. Sources close to the Spanish Ministry of Economy and to others such as the Banco de España and the National Stock Exchange Commission have stated that, in terms of fiscal control, ‘nothing has advanced as far as Gibraltar is concerned’.
Therefore Madrid wants Gibraltar to once again be placed on the ‘black list’ of uncooperative off-shore centres that includes Andorra, Liberia, Liechtenstein, the Marshall Islands and Monaco, among others.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Roshan Jamal Khan detained in Spain

Roshan Jamal Khan was detained in Spain on January 19 and kept in jail since, accused of being an Al Qaeda-linked suicide bomber. Spain has not explained his crime. This despite the Indian Ministry of External Affairs writing to Spain in March first week that Roshan was “clean”.From her, it is difficult to get the story of how the ex-student of south Mumbai’s cosmopolitan St Xavier’s College, popular as a boxer, went on to be an olive trader before being picked up from a mosque in Barcelona and branded a terrorist.“I fear of repercussions on the children. The family name is at stake. Only my two eldest children know about his arrest. The four younger ones — between seven and 12 — don’t know,” she said.
And as Roshan goes about his routine in a Spanish jail 7,000 km away, his 16-year-old son Talha will be writing his SSC Physics exam on Monday.“My exams are near, but I’ll manage. I’m worried about Talha,” said teary-eyed 17-year-old Safiya, a first-year commerce student. “He’s upset. He wants to hear father’s voice.”The government, meanwhile, ran its cold, officious lines. “The embassy was given consular access to Roshan Jamal Khan, and two officials from the Indian embassy in Madrid went to meet this gentleman in prison,” said a senior Indian diplomat in Spain. “They have confirmed that he is indeed an Indian and is in good health.”
A Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson in Delhi just said: “We are in touch with the Spanish authorities.”
Meanwhile, brother Mehboob Khan shows some of Roshan’s certificates. “Shri Khan comes from a respectable family and... bears a good moral character,” says a certificate issued by Professor AA Kazi, St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, on November 7, 1981.A letter of appreciation issued by the American Embassy in Kuwait in 1994 reads: “Your professionalism and willingness to provide assistance... is sincerely appreciated.” (This was in connection with services Roshan Khan provided while with a Kuwait-based aviation company).Roshan’s younger brother Mehboob Khan, a BJP worker for 25 years, says he called Roshan two days after he was detained on January 19 in Madrid.“His cell was switched off and it continued being so for the rest of the week. I got worried and called his brother-in-law in Barcelona. He told us about the charges. Till then neither the Spanish authorities nor our authorities informed us,” Mehboob recalled. “I then started corresponding with the Ministry of External Affairs and the PMO, which told me they are looking into the matter. I offered to go to Spain but was told it was not required at this stage.”More than a month after Jamal’s detention, the family received a letter (dated February 25) from Sujata Mehta, Ambassador of India in Madrid, stating that two officials had met Roshan and he was being looked after well and that he had asked them to inform his family members in this regard. He also conveyed a message that “his family should await a resolution of the situation”.“That is what we are doing: waiting,” said Mehboob. Mehboob is preparing to go to Spain. “I have requested the embassy to help me with a visa. I will go to fight for my brother,” he said.Their father, Babu Peshgar Khan, who runs a dairy in south Mumbai, is in shock and refused to speak.

Alfredo Marijuán, Carlos Farré , Isaac Pacheco Suárez, Eusebio Vázquez Fernández have been charged

Alfredo Marijuán and Carlos Farré have been detained in custody and Isaac Pacheco Suárez and Eusebio Vázquez Fernández were released on bail.Four inspectors from an elite unit that combats organised crime in Malaga have been charged with bribery, embezzlement, dereliction of duty, ownership of illegal arms, and revealing confidential information. Forty officers have been questioned in connection with the case, which relates to alleged payments received by Inspector Marijuán from Russian nationals for reports on police surveillance operations.The officer was also alleged to have delivered an envelope containing details about the girlfriend of a Russian who was arrested for cocaine smuggling in the US. The Costa del Sol has become the base for a dangerous breed of gang, from the UK, Russia, Colombia and eastern Europe. The Russian mafia are known to have a major presence on the Costa del Sol, exploiting lax property laws and lack of police resources to launder millions from arms dealing, drug dealing and prostitution. A Spanish interior ministry report said nearly a third of organised crime in Spain is based in the area, with 102 known gangs. Three years ago, Spain launched a major crackdown there, forming specialised units to combat the problem.

William McFarlane with four other Englishmen arrested in Benidorm

five men arrested in a swoop on drugs and illegal gambling in Spain yesterday. William McFarlane, 56, from Glasgow, was taken into custody along with four Englishmen when police targeted a suspected drugs distribution and gambling den in the centre of Benidorm. Officers recovered £77,000 as well as a quantity of illicit drugs, prescription drugs and cigarettes.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Spanish T.V. reporting the Mari Luz Cortés case say she was suffocated to death, and then thrown into the water afterwards.


Spanish T.V. reports Telecinco has revealed what it calls the definitive results of the autopsy carried out on the body of the five year old
There has been new information in the Mari Luz Cortés case, the five year old girl from Huelva whose body was found in Ria de Huelva a week ago.Telecinco is reporting that the definitive results of the autopsy carried out on the child, which they say has proved that she was suffocated to death, and then thrown into the water afterwards. The autopsy concludes that the child died in the following 24 hours of her disappearance, and that the injuries to her head and ribs were also carried out before she died.The child’s father, Juan José Cortés, has called for time to ‘cry in silence’ and says that he will fight to find who is responsible and to see them pay for what they have done.Police say they think a local person may have seen Mari Luz with her killer, but is too frightened to come forward.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

U.K. supply of high speed, radar-evading boats to smugglers operating between North Africa and Spain


Accused of taking over the role of a Lowestoft couple in supplying boats to drug smugglers 0n the Spanish Costas went to the same business to purchase the hulls, a court has heard.
Ian Rush, 43, is on trial at Ipswich Crown Court where HM Revenue and Customs has alleged he was instrumental in setting up a company to continue the work of Lowestoft-based Crompton Marine when its owners were arrested.
Yesterday the court was told by David Gooch that he had supplied, without being aware of the eventual owners of the boats, hulls to Crompton Marine, but when owners Richard Davison and Ellen George were arrested he was left with a number in stock.
Mr Gooch said Rush's company, Nautexco Marine, contacted him and arranged to purchase the hulls.
The prosecution allege that Rush, of Brand End Road, Butterwick, Lincolnshire, had set up Nautexco with the aim of continuing the supply of high speed, radar-evading boats to smugglers operating between North Africa and Spain.
Davison and George were detained in March 2004 as part of a joint investigation by British and Spanish customs officials into suspected money laundering offences.
At the couple's home in Colville Road, Lowestoft, £1.25m in cash was found. Rush has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to retain the proceeds of drug smuggling and conspiracy to acquire criminal property.
Defence barrister Phillip Hackett said the way that Nautexco Marine and Crompton Marine were managed was very different and was key to proving Rush's innocence.

Mari Luz Cortés neither of the two autopsies has established whether she was murdered or died accidentally.

According to a report in today's ABC, neither of the two autopsies performed on little Mari Luz Cortés, the five year old girl whose body was discovered in an estuary near Huelva last Friday has established whether she was murdered or died accidentally. The autopsies did reveal that Mari Luz sustained a broken rib and a head injury, but it appears that neither were responsible for her death and may have been caused post-mortem as a result of the body washing up against rocks. It is clear that the girl died within 48 hours of her disappearance and was neither raped nor strangled, though the condition of the corpse made it impossible for asphyxia to be ruled out. Mari Luz disappeared from near her home in the city's El Torrejón district on the evening of January 13th and was found more than a kilometre away, leading investigators to conclude that it is unlikely that she arrived there unaccompanied on foot, especially given that she would have had to cross a busy main road tio get there. However, there are various ditches and drains that lead directly from the El Torrejón district where Mari Luz lived to the estuary where her body was found.

John and Jenny Harvey are terrified to leave the house in case the bulldozers move in while they are away


The Harveys moved from Hunmanby to the Alpujarra mountains, near the coast of south east Spain, five years ago.John and Jenny Harvey are terrified to leave the house in case the bulldozers move in while they are away.And to make matters worse, a crippling fine of 80,000 euros (£61,000) has been imposed on the couple.
“This has ruined our lives,” said 64-year-old Mr Harvey, a former coalminer and builder. “We have worked so hard for this – if they take away our home they may as well put us six feet under.”They invested their life savings of 200,000 euros (£153,000) to transform some derelict land into a beautiful farm surrounded by olive, almond and orange trees.But the regional government of Andalusia now insists their home is illegal, despite having been given planning permission for their project from the local town hall in Lanjarón, which is about 30 miles from the city of Granada.Mrs Harvey, 58, says she is at a loss to understand what went wrong.
She said: “I worked for 30 years as a legal executive so I didn’t cut any corners with the house. We paid an architect to do everything for us.”The Harveys’ fears were heightened by the demolition of another house owned by British pensioners Len and Helen Prior in January. They were given two hours to remove their furniture and belongings from their home in Vera, Almeria.Spain is cracking down on what officials consider to be illegal builds and corruption after a mass of unregulated house building over the past 10 years – and unwary Brits are paying the price.
A Government spokesman insisted that Spain will continue to demolish illegal constructions.Mr Harvey suffers from a heart condition and both he and his wife have become ill through stress since they heard the demolition was set for February 1.
A one-month delay obtained by their lawyer has now expired.The couple are unable to remortgage or sell the condemned home and they have yet to secure a bond for the £61,000 fine.Now, the distraught couple have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on the advice of Euro MP Michael Cashman.He described similar cases as an “abuse of innocent citizens”.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Adele Spencer fought off the Moroccan-looking women when they broke into her home and tried to take 18-month old Annabelle from her high-chair


Adele Spencer, 28, has told how she fought off the Moroccan-looking women when they broke into her home and tried to take 18-month old Annabelle from her high-chair.The incident came just three days after another British family in the same town were targeted. Yesterday it was claimed the family of missing Madeleine McCann were keen to find out more about the cases.Miss Spencer said: "If I had been 10 seconds later she would have been gone. I'm just thankful I managed to get to Annabelle in time to save her."I never thought we would come close to suffering the same fate as Madeleine's parents. You read about horrific stories like theirs but you don't expect it to happen to you."The drama happened just after 3pm on Tuesday. The hairdresser was alone with her daughter in her rented home in Moraira, Costa Blanca.She had left Annabelle asleep in her high chair and was hanging up clothes in an adjoining bedroom while her fiancé Carl was at work.
She said: "I thought it was Annabelle wakingup but when I went in to see her two Moroccan-looking women were standing over her, one on either side."They had taken her blanket from her and were about to try to lift Annabelle out of her chair. My legs buckled under me at first and I felt like I was going to be sick with the shock. But suddenly I came round and I just started screaming over and over, 'Get out of my house, get out of my house'.
"They started walking backwards slowly towards the door and the next minute, I threw myself at the older woman. I lunged at her face and throat as I tried to push her out of the house."Spanish police are said to be linking the attempted kidnap to a separate bid to snatch a three-year-old British boy in the same town.
Her fiancé, from Leeds, added: "What has happened to Madeleine is awful and it so nearly happened to us. No other parent should have to go through that suffering."

Mass tourism and the tawdry "luxury" of the large hotels are attracting gangsters, drug traffickers, time-share villains, and other undesirables

The spate of poor quality construction now seen in the Canary Islands is ruining the environment and turning many places into eyesores. This is the inevitable result of the islands' policy of opting for mass tourism.Although most of the income generated by tourism does not stay in the islands, the little that does is spent unwisely. The "get rich quick" mentality endengered by the tourist industry spurs feverish building by the islanders - houses, greenhouses, sheds for farming implements (usually a pretext for more ambitious building), and so on.Mass tourism needs infrastructure. Tourism is also to blame for the building of hundreds of roads, dual carriageways, streets, industrial estates, etc.This infrastructure scars the islands, turning whole areas into untidy jumbles of jerry-built housing, criss-crossed by roads that are jammed with traffic, reeking of exhaust fumes. This in turn helps ensure the islands only attract the most down-at-heel tourists - after all, who in his right mind would want to spend his holiday in such sordid surroundings?
As a result, the quality of the islands' tourist industry continues to slide, creating a vicious circle.Tourism consumes massive quantities of water. The problem is compounded by bad water management policies (including the building of thirsty golf courses and swimming pools). As a result, the islands' underground aquifers are now a wasting asset, with extraction far outstripping natural recharge rates.The number of locals finding low-grade jobs (waiters, cleaners, etc.) in the tourist industry is climbing steadily. The result is that many young people give up studying altogether, opting for easy-to-find, low-paid jobs instead. A whole generation of Canary Islanders is now ruthlessly exploited by foreign-owned businesses. This process is leading to a general "dumbing down" of the Canary Islands' population - something that further blinds the job-mesmerised locals to the evils of mass tourism.The general "dumbing down" of the population makes the locals lose respect for their historic and natural heritage, thus further damaging the image tourists get of the Canary Islands. This contributes to the general decline in the quality of the islands' tourist industry.Mass tourism and the tawdry "luxury" of the large hotels are attracting gangsters, drug traffickers, time-share villains, and other undesirables in droves. These shady characters have discovered how easy it is to cover their tracks amid the tourist hordes and that there are unrivalled opportunities for money laundering and related activities. The Spanish mainland's Costa del Sol has long been notorious as a haven for organised crime. The Canary Islands are now going the same way.

Irene Cunningham died in a hospital in the Costa del Sol

The shocked husband of a Plymouth woman who collapsed and died unexpectedly during a Spanish diving holiday has paid tribute to his 'lovely' wife.
Irene Cunningham, aged 53, of Greenbank, died in a hospital in the Costa del Sol on Saturday, March 1, after suffering a massive heart attack during a waterfront walk the previous day. Her devastated husband Pete Cunningham said it was 'an honour' to have been married to Irene. Pete, aged 51, said: 'It's such a shock to us all, she went so suddenly.'

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Red Duchess dies an extraordinary personality


The funeral took place in Sanlúcar de Barrameda on Sunday for the Duchess of Medina Sidonia, Luisa Isabel Álvarez de Toledo y Maura, who died at the age of 72 on Saturday. The local Town Hall called three days of official mourning and described her death as an ‘irreparable loss.’ An extraordinary council meeting is to take place to name the Duchess an adoptive daughter of Sanlúcar.Her title is one of the oldest in Spain, and dates back to the 13th century. Born in exile in Estoril, Portugal, in August 1936, she became known as the Red Duchess for her opposition to the Franco regime. She had a spell in prison in the 1960s for taking part in a protest to support compensation for farmers whose land was affected by the Palomares nuclear bomb accident in Almería province, and faced a military court after the publication of her novel ‘La Huelga’ – ‘The Strike.’Meeting the lady and walking threw the chapel has remained an abiding memory of a truly grat person.

Mari Luz Cortés DNA testing has now confirmed the identification 100%


DNA testing has confirmed that the badly decomposed body found floating in the Ría de Huelva -the common estuary of the Tinto and Odiel Rivers - on Friday afternoon, is that of Mari Luz Cortés, the five year old girl who disappeared in the city on 13th January. She went missing after leaving her home in the El Torrejón district of Huelva for a short trip to the local sweets kiosk, and her body was found near the Cepsa refinery installations by a Cepsa employee, still dressed in the same clothes she was wearing when she was last seen. Mari Luz’s father, Juan José Cortés, identified his daughter’s body on Friday, but the DNA testing has now confirmed the identification 100%.It’s understood that the autopsy has now been completed, and the judge will decide whether to release the results to the press as the investigation remains governed by secrecy. Luis Molina, spokesman for the Cortés family, told journalists that the family has no information on the results, and added that there has been no confirmation of reports in the media that the five year old died within 24 hours of her disappearance. He called on the press to refrain from giving any information which could later turn out to be false.

Friday, 7 March 2008

City Hall of Huelva has decreed 3 days of official mourning for Mari Luz

The City Hall of Huelva has decreed 3 days of official mourning for Mari Luz.
Huelva mayor Pedro Rodriguez said the child had been struck on the head but the cause of death was not known. Rodriguez declared three days of mourning starting Saturday.

Mari Luz’s body found in the river at Huelva

Reports in the Spanish press and phone calls from reporters in Huelva have confirmed Five year old Mari Luz, missing from Huelva since she left her home in the El Torrejón area of the city on 13th January for a short trip to the local sweets kiosk, has been found dead. El Mundo said her body was found on Friday evening in Huelva province in the Torrearenilla marshland, in a river close to the Cepsa refinery installations, by an employee of the petroleum company. It’s understood that Mari Luz’s body was found with the clothes she was wearing when she disappeared , and that her body was badly decomposed.There was news just last week that the family of the five year old had received a ransom demand for two million euros, via an anonymous caller who demanded the money to release the child.
While it was thought to be a hoax, the family said they were prepared to negotiate in the case of serious calls. Mari Luz’s uncle, Diego Cortés, said at the time that the family would personally go to rescue his niece if necessary, but said they would only be able to raise around 300,000 €.El Mundo said Mari Luz’s parents, Juan José Cortés and Irene Suárez, had arrived at the scene to identify their daughter’s body, and that Juan José López Garzón, the central government delegate for Andalucía, was also en route to the site where Mari Luz’s body was found.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Mari Luz Cortés family ransom demand for two million Euros.


The family of the missing five year old girl, Mari Luz Cortés, who vanished from Huelva in the middle of January, says they have received a ransom demand for two million Euros.
They say they received a phone call from an individual yesterday, who demanded two million € to release the child.
But at a press conference held today in the Plaza Rosa del Torrejón, in Huelva, the missing child’s uncle, Diego Cortés, lamented the call which he described as ‘upsetting and senseless’, as it was believed the call is a hoax. He said that the family ‘was prepared to negotiate’ in the case of serious calls, adding that if the family would go personally to rescue Mari Luz if necessary. He said there was no chance

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Audrey Fitzpatrick has met Bertie Ahern

Bertie Ahern has met with the mother of a teenager missing in the Costa del Sol since New Year's day. Mr Ahern met Audrey Fitzpatrick whose 15-year-old daughter Amy has not been seen since January 1st, when she left a friend's house to walk to her home in Mijas on the Costa del Sol in the south of Spain. Amy's stepfather, Dave Mahon, was also at the meeting. A Government statement said Mr Ahern reiterated the Government's offer to provide assistance to the family and emphasised the willingness of the Irish Embassy in Madrid to help. He said he would ask the embassy to convene a meeting between the family, Irish officials and the Spanish police to review progress in the case. The search for Amy was scaled down in January after a two-day search involving some 230 police officers and volunteers.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Spanish tax office confirmed that it has obtained the names of 100 Spanish citizens believed to have evaded taxes in Liechtenstein

The Spanish tax office confirmed at the weekend that it has obtained the names of 100 Spanish citizens believed to have evaded taxes in Liechtenstein, becoming the 15th country involved in an international probe into fiscal fraud in the Alpine principality.Tax officials did not disclose the identity of the suspected tax evaders, although most are believed to be wealthy business owners with millions of euros of financial assets deposited in Liechtenstein banks. They are among hundreds of people named on a DVD purchased by the German government from an informant last month, which ignited the international scandal.Since then 15 countries have said they are investigating tax fraud by their citizens in Liechtenstein. The number of people under investigation by Spain is comparable to those being probed by the United States, while Italy says it is investigating 150 people and France 200. Germany says more than 1,000 of its citizens are suspected of evading taxes to the tune of EUR 4 billion.According to Spanish authorities, tax officials are attempting to determine the full extent of the evasion carried out by Spanish tax payers. Those who owe the tax office less than EUR 120,000 will face fines and sanctions imposed by the tax office directly, while those owing more than that amount can expect to face criminal charges in court, authorities said.

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