Matthew Elliott

Matthew Elliott

POACHERS who killed a wild goat and took its head as a trophy are facing prosecution.

The three men had no hunting licence and hadn’t even properly sealed the head when they were stopped by the Guardia Civil in Tabernas.

Guardia Civil officers on anti-poaching duty in the desert terrain grew suspicious when they saw a vehicle pass by without its lights on, despite it being nightfall.

They were able to follow the vehicle using the intermittent flashes of its rear brake lights as a guide.

The van was pulled over on the AL-3103. Inside were three men, two in full camouflaged hunting gear. There were binoculars and live ammunition on the seats.

Inspecting the van, police found two rifles and the decapitated head of a Spanish Ibex, also known as an Iberian wild goat.

It was still stained with blood and improperly secured for transport. Checking the men’s documentation, police found that they had no permission to hunt in the area, no hunting liability insurance, or even a generic hunting licence.The rifles were legally owned.

All three men were reported for poaching offences and will likely be fined. The Guardia Civil officers confiscated their trophy.

THE wealth gap between municipalities across the province has been exposed in a new report. 

Mojacar, Almeria City and Carboneras have the richest inhabitants, while Los Velez and Oria have among the lowest average incomes.

The report from the State Tax Administration Agency (AEAT) analysed median incomes in 53 of the province’s 103 municipalities. The 50 excluded have minor populations, often with less than 1,000 people.

Across the board the Almerian average take home income was €16,524 per year. Households in the capital had the highest average at just under €20,000. They were followed by Carboneras, Huercal de Almeria, Mojacar and Roquetas de Mar. 

Tourism is considered key to raising average incomes, except in Huercal de Almeria which has strong industry and an expanding professional class. 

In contrast, Oria, Lubrin, Abrucena, Finana, Gergal and Canjanar, all have average annual incomes of less than €12,500. Maria in Los Velez is the lowest at €11,586. 

Compared to the rest of Spain, Almeria Province is at neither the top or lower extremes of wealth. Almeria city is the 718th wealthiest municipality in the country, while Maria occupies the 2,897th spot on the national ranking.  

MORE than 41,000 plants were seized in the biggest marijuana bust in Almeria's history.

Guardia Civil agents raided an enormous farm dedicated entirely to production of the drug.

With a total haul of 41,500 adult plants, it was the second-biggest marijuana crop ever found in Spain. Police have so far arrested just one suspect, a 52-year-old Nijar man, who was minding the crop.

The farm, in the Cortijo de Norias area, spanned a vast 61,500 square metres. Incredible pictures show Guardia Civil agents surrounded by well-managed plants in one of the most sophisticated and heavily-financed operations ever seen.

The tens of thousands of plants were divided between multiple greenhouses. Police searched several warehouses on the property, finding machinery used to dry and process the plants into a sellable product.

It is still unknown who masterminded the operation or how long it has been effective for.

The raid was conducted over the weekend. Guardia Civil agents across Almeria province now routinely conduct checks of rural properties searching for drug plantations.

They came across a strong smell from the farm and began a surveillance operation. Using state-of-the-art cameras they were able to get an idea of the sheer size of the marijuana farm.

Backup was dispatched for the raid, which came after the suspect closed the gates for the night. Evidence, including ventilation, farm machinery, smell inhibitors, and vegetable crates used to transfer the drugs, were confiscated. 

CRIES for Mallorcan independence rang out as thousands of people protested across the island in support of beleaguered Cataluña.

A spokesman for Mallorca’s own nationalists has now said that they will push for a referendum on the island “in 2040, 2030, or even as early as 2020.”

David Abril, of Mes per Mallorca, also called on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to step down after the violent suppression of Cataluna’s vote.

“He has no more legitimacy,” said Abril, whose socialist and eco-minded party has long been beating the drums for Mallorcan, or Balearic, independence.

The dream isn’t too far-fetched. Mes are already part of the ruling coalition in the Balearic parliament. Together with the Mallorca Greens, they command around 14 per cent of the vote.

Mallorca is culturally Catalan and Abril, like many other ambitious politicians, believes anything can happen over the coming years.

Mes parliamentarians showed up in Palma wearing Tweety t-shirts in support of their Catalan comrades.

The Loony Tunes canary character bizarrely featured on a large cruise ship anchored near Barcelona carrying Guardia Civil reinforcements from Madrid. On the tshirts Tweety has a speech bubble saying ‘Si’ and is waving a Catalan flag.

An estimated 3,000 people gathered in Palma on Sunday night to voice support for Catalan referendum. They shouted slogans, including ‘liberty!’ and ‘independence!’ and sang the Balearic anthem.

They were countered by a small group of protestors waving the Spanish flag and voicing their support of the police.

Other pro-Catalan rallies took place in Manacor, Pollensa, Soller, Felanitx and Sineu, among other places.

ANIMAL activists have launched a new campaign against the exploitation of horses.

AnimaNaturalis are demanding the replacement of Palma’s famous horsedrawn carriages with electric ones.

They have presented an official request to Palma Town Hall. In a press statement AnimaNaturalis noted that the council had unanimously approved a bill to improve the horses’ wellbeing.

But that was three years ago and nothing has been done. “To this day no action has been taken and Palma’s horses suffer continuous exploitation throughout the summer,” the statement read.

The activist group also accused coachmen of physically abusing and punishing the animals, and “treating them merely as a means of transport.”

Examples include forcing the horses to carry more passengers than is legally allowed, denying them rest breaks and proper hygiene, and making them bake in the sun with temperatures above 40 degrees.

Last year two horses died due to negligent treatment, the group allege. AnimaNaturalis accused police and officials of turning a blind eye to the abuse.

They warned them, however, that people are becoming more and more sensitive to issues of animal abuse and the tide is changing.

Replacing horse-drawn carriages with eco-friendly electric ones is an idea gaining popularity around the world. It is now part of the election manifesto of several Mallorca parties.

SUBSTANDARD conditions and poorly trained staff pose a serious threat to security at Torrevieja’s animal shelter, say trade unionists.

The furious campaigners have reported the facility to the town hall. A delegation from the CSIF union found leaks, exposed electrical panels and wiring, and unprotected personal data in the client files.

Their damning report claimed that workers lacked protective equipment for dealing with animals. Most also had ‘no training or qualifications’ whatsoever.

The shelter has no access for people with reduced mobility. It is a hazard for staff, visitors and the animals, the delegation concluded.

Particular concern was expressed over the role of volunteers. Inspectors found that untrained, and unaccountable, volunteers had access to the personal information of people considering adopting animals.

By law, only registered and paid staff should ever process private information. The shelter was inspected by Seprona, the Guardia Civil’s animal protection unit, a few months ago.

Similar safety issues were raised at the time. Mayor Carmen Morate has admitted that the facility is in bad shape and pledged further investment.

Around 500 animals enter the Torrevieja shelter each year. This is far less than in the past thanks to a concerted effort to improve the Vega Baja’s adoption network.

The shelter currently has a ‘zero slaughter’ policy, whereby no animals are put down unless it is a medical necessity.

MILLIONS of fruit trees could die within the week across the Almanzora Valley.

An emergency irrigation request has been sent to Madrid by Almeria’s Mesa del Agua water board.

If the water doesn’t arrive in time an estimated four million clementine, peach, plum and nectarine trees face imminent death.

Millions have already begun to lose their leaves and fruits are far smaller than usual. The problem is most acute to the north of Huercal-Overa, where farms have entered ‘zero supply’ stage, receiving no water whatsoever.

Farmers have resigned themselves to a disastrous harvest that will struggle to pay the bills. But the death of millions of trees would be an environmental and financial catastrophe for the valley.

“If the government does nothing to help it will mean the ruin of many families and the end of millions of trees that were planted decades ago,” said Mesa del Agua spokesman, Jose Antonio Fernandez.

The board has begged Madrid to approve the transfer of five cubic hectometres of water from the Negratin reservoir in Granada to its Almanzora counterpart.

The Villaricos desalination plant has been out of service since 2012. “Five years later, the government has not lifted a finger to defend the interests of Almanzora farmers,” said Fernandez, “despite the fact that they have offered to take over the desalination plant and repair it at their own expense.”

INVESTMENT in Spain’s major city centres is approaching record levels.

Top international brands are competing for prime high street properties as the wider economy reboots. A new study from real estate consultancy JLL found that €402 million was pumped into the Spanish high street in the first quarter of 2017.

Much of the money comes courtesy of flagship stores set up by Primark, H&M, Zara, and other fashion giants.

The unveiling of Primark’s 7,000 square metre store in Madrid’s Gran Via attracted thousands of tourists and excited bargain hunters.

Prime property isn’t the sole reserve of fashion outlets. Ikea, Seat and Leroy Merlin are also interested in snapping up more central locations.

Decathlon is setting up three stores in the heart of Madrid. Demand is highest in Barcelona where one square metre on the Portal del Angel shopping street now costs €3,360.

The arrival of mega-stores more commonly found on industrial estates nearer the airport than the city centre has small businesses worried.

RetailCat, which represents 30,000 small stores, says it is impossible for them to compete with multinationals as rents rise.

A SCAM ARTIST tricked a transsexual into believing she could turn him from a man into a woman using magic as a court case continues.

The Santa Pola ‘psychic medium’ took advantage of the man’s vulnerability to convince him to fork out €2,300 for the sex change sorcery, a court heard.

The victim, who believes he is a woman born in a man’s body, contacted the medium over the internet.

She told him in a WhatsApp conversation that she could change someone’s sex from male to female within a week. All he had to do was transfer €2,000 then follow her instructions so the magic would take effect.

Once he made the payment she asked for another €500 for a ‘pact with the devil,’ necessary to ensure that everything went smoothly.

He managed to negotiate the €500 down to €300 but still needed a personal loan to cover the costs.

For the medium to be convicted of fraud, deceit must be proven. But the defence maintains that, since it is impossible to change someone’s sex using magic, the real problem was the extreme naivety of the plaintiff.

The result of the case will prove instructive for similar questions. The internet is awash with psychic healers promising to cure broken hearts, wreak revenge and work financial wonders.

A DEAD black lamb was found dumped at the home of Mallorca’s first black mayor.

Guillem Balboa, mayor of Alaro, has reported the incident to the Guardia Civil. It is unknown who is responsible.

Police are exploring racist or fascist motivations, and the possibility that it is a sick joke.

Balboa found the dying lamb in his courtyard when he returned from a trip with his wife just after the Alaro festival. He told police they were confronted with a putrid smell when they entered the house.Outside he found the rotting corpse of the lamb.

It was in an advanced state of decomposition and its stomach grossly inflated with gases caused by bacterial infection.

The lamb had left a trail of blood as it crawled across the patio. The mayor believes it was still alive when the culprit (s) threw it over his fence. There were no signs of a break in.

A forensic report found that the lamb had been savagely beaten and died from a heavy blow to the skull. “If it is a wild prank then I am only offended by the treatment of the poor animal,” Balboa said in a public statement.

“If it is a political criticism then it’s incomprehensible because anyone can come to the town hall and tell me what they think.

“I interpret it as a message of rejection, but all it has succeeded in doing is encouraging me to continue working for the people,” he continued.

Balboa took office as Mallorca’s first black mayor in history in June. Born in Equatorial Guinea, he moved to Mallorca as a boy with his family in 1970.

He has worked at the University of the Balearic Islands and lived in Palma until 2006 when he moved to Alaro with his wife.

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