Gregory Kirby

Gregory Kirby

AN Almeria court sentenced two men to four and a half years in prison on Tuesday for organising the illegal entry of migrants into Spain from Algeria using Facebook. 

Two women and a child were among those on the boat travelling from the coast of Algeria, the Almeria courtroom heard. 

They charged each migrant €600 for the trip, according to judges. 

And the pair - known only as MAB and MZ - were convicted of acting against foreign citizens’ rights and ‘directly’ promoting the illegal immigration of people from Arzew, Algeria to Spain. 

MAB lead the recruitment of collaborators on Facebook, according to the prosecutor’s initial notes. 

He was paid for organising the boat and the equipment necessary to make it to Spain, the notes read. 

The men skippered the boat ‘using a compass’ and gave passengers instructions to follow if Spanish authorities spotted them, the court heard.

The 40-horsepower vessel departed at midnight on July 23 last year.

And the Guardia Civil’s maritime surveillance service picked up the ribbed boat at 4.15pm the next day, 62 nautical miles northeast of Cabo de Gata in Almeria.

The boat failed to meet the technical requirements for such a voyage as it was carrying more than its six or seven-person capacity. 

And it also lacked minimum security items like lifejackets ‘endangering the lives of those on board,’ the court heard. 

Police seized €345, mobile phones and a long-range laser pointer from the men upon arrest. 

A POST from a Mexican Twitter user about his upcoming trip to Murcia has gone viral after it was mistakenly accompanied by a picture of a skyline in Shanghai, China.

“Next destination…Murcia, Spain,” the Tweet reads beneath the picture of the Asian city.

But anyone who is familiar with Murcia, China or even Europe more broadly will immediately spot the hash.

The post sparked a swathe of sarcastic responses mocking the post by featuring shots from world-famous sights, with claims they belong to the Spanish province.

One post said showed pictures of Disney Land Paris and the Egyptian pyramids and read: “Remember to visit Murcia’s famous pyramids an if you are with children you can go to the famous children’s theme park.

It appears Mexican Jean La Torre may have taken the mocking to heart based on his latest tweet.

“I wish my poems also had the same impact as this minor error I made.”

The message was accompanied by sad face emoticons. And La Torre received some caring responses which aimed to lift his spirits.

THIS year’s La Sala by the Sea’s White and Gold party was a roaring success on Friday in Puerto Banus, marking the summer opening of Marbella’s premium beach-side relaxation venue.

Elegant guests and celebrities embraced the dress code, flocking into the idyllic Puerto Banus venue draped in the finest white and sparkling gold apparel.

They were treated to a range of delicious Thai-fusion and sushi canapes delivered by meticulous staff offering optimum hospitality and attention to detail.

Stunning white-feather dancers twirled flaming sticks on the poolside wowing onlookers who sipped on summer beverages flowing from the three tropical bars.   

And golden guests swayed to funky grooves from a top line-up of live music from Masquerade Duo and DJ Scott Strutton.

After reveling in the evening’s entertainment and lounging on the king-size cabana beds, guests were transported to the after-party at the swish Sala Banus, La Sala’s twin-Marbella venue.

Those who missed out on the first taste of La Sala’s summer paradise should not fret as the venue is now open throughout summer.

During the day, guests can chill in style on luxurious sun loungers, plush cabana beds for up to six people, jacuzzi beds, VIP jacuzzi loungers and even wind down with tranquilizing treatments in the dedicated Zen spa area.

And the restaurant - which transforms into an enchanting Thai haven in the evening - serves high-end Thai fusion cuisine, delightfully fresh seafood platters and sumptuous sushi.

Book your table now by calling +34 952 813 882 or email [email protected] or book online:

THE father of Ignacio Echeverria, the ‘skateboard hero’ stabbed to death by terrorists during the London bridge attacks last year, has paid tribute to his son a year on.

“He did what he had to do. I wouldn’t expect less from him,” Joaquin Echeverria, Ignacio’s father, said.

“I want it to be known that he always wanted to be good,” he added.

The terrorists were stabbing a woman when Echeverria, from Madrid, intervened armed with just his skateboard.

“And the next thing Ignacio was then being struck by the three terrorists,” Echeverria’s father said.”

The Spaniard - who was an anti-money laundering expert at HSBC bank - had said he would intervene in the event of a terrorist attack during a family conversation just a few months prior to the June 3 attacks, his father told.

The Spanish government posthumously awarded him the Great Cross of the order of Civil Merit for “extraordinary services.”

Spain’s king Felipe VI also honoured his bravery in a speech given in UK parliament during a state visit last year.

A commemoration to those who died during the attacks was held at Southward Needle on London Bridge last Sunday marking one year since the attack.

Prime Minister Teresa May attended alongside Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, London Metropolitan police chief, Cressida Dick and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

“The many stories of courage demonstrated that night will always stay with me, such as Ignacio Echeverria, who died after confronting the terrorists with the only thing he had, his skateboard,” the Prime Minister said.

Islamic State-inspired terrorists ploughed down pedestrians on London bridge in a van before crashing it on the south bank of the River Thames.

They ran to nearby Borough market storming pubs and restaurants and stabbing whoever they could find before Metropolitan police shot them dead.

A total of 48 people were injured in the attacks and eight people were killed which in addition to Echeverria include, Canadian Christine Archibald, 30, James McMullan, 32, from Hackney, Frenchmen Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sebastien Belanger, 36 and Xavier Thomas, 45, Australians Kirsty Boden, 28 and Sara Zelenak 21.

RYANAIR has announced an increase in the fee for carrying two cabin bags on some flights just months after the airline introduced the charge.

The company’s baggage policy allows everybody to travel with “two-free carry-on bags.”

But the heaviest of the two bags has to be checked into the hold, unless passengers pay a priority boarding fee.

A €5.7 charge for priority boarding was introduced in January, but it has now increased to €6.85 for selected trips, according to Which? consumers’ association.

And it rises again to €7.99 if passengers reserve the priority booking during on-line check-in instead of when booking.

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “Like all businesses, our optional fees can change unlike our fares, which keep coming down.”

He did not say which transfers would be affected by increased luggage fees.

Airline CEO Michael O’Leary said checking in cabin bags at the gate is causing ‘handling issues’ on charters.

The problem is worst during bank holiday weekends and summer peak periods with up to 120 free-of-charge bags being handled at gates, he added.

Ryainair’s new bag policy could reportedly be costing €50 million each year. And O’Leary said he may have to rethink it if the number of bags being checked-in at gates continues to rise.

The airline makes €5.7 million per day from additional charges and €2billion each year from ‘ancillary revenues’ coming from additional extras like priority boarding and seat reservations.

POLICE have brought down a band of criminals who manipulated cash machines to trap credit cards and steal thousands.

The fraudsters used a method known as the ‘Lebanese trap’ in which they tampered with cash machine card slots to make people think their cards had been swallowed, police sources said.

And the cards were then intercepted by the criminals along with the pin numbers swindled by placing mobile phones in strategic positions.

The con men would then go to another bank’s ATM to empty the accounts.

The group’s operations were organised and spanned Alicante, Castellon, Murcia, Granada, Tarragona and Girona provinces.

Agents from different units had to be deployed to keep tabs on the gang - said to be of Romanian origin - because of their widespread coverage.

The entire gang has now been tumbled after its leader and three other members were arrested on charges of criminal organisation, fraud and damages.

Investigators have evidence of criminals using the ‘Lebanese trap’ at least 25 times to steal a value of €30,000.

BREXIT is already damaging Spanish exports after trade with the United Kingdom fell for the first time in five years in 2017.

Sales of Spanish products to Britain fell six per cent last year. While trade with the European Union grew eight per cent in the same period, according to the latest Bank of Spain report.

The amount of companies exporting to the UK also dropped by 0.8 per cent, which is more than other destinations, the report said.

A total of seven per cent of all of Spanish exporting firms trade with the UK, the secretary of commerce said.

A quarter of the 11,695 Spanish trading companies only do business with the British Isles. These entities are the “most vulnerable” to Brexit, the Bank of Spain said.

Most of the businesses which trade with the United Kingdom are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - 85 per cent precisely - but the bulk of sales is actually made by large firms.

This offers some hope because these businesses are “on average bigger, more productive and more geographically diversified than those which export to the main countries within the monetary union,” the Bank said.

This could help absorb some of the Brexit effect, it added.

MEGA-EARNERS pocketing at least €30 million per year have doubled in Spain from when the crisis hit in 2007 to 2015.

There were 549 super wealthy people who fell into this category in 2015 compared to just 233 in 2007, according to the latest figures from Spain’s tax agency.

The super rich have been adding to their ranks ever since the economy began to reboot, with 352 in 2011, 443 in 2012, 471 in 2013 and 508 in 2014.

Cataluña is the richest region in terms of multimillionaires with 72,716 taxpayers earning an average of €2,37 million.

Wealth is more concentrated in the capital Madrid where there are 16,977 big earners. But they earn an average of €8,85 million per year, the highest sum in the country.

In Andalucia there are 17,700 raking in €2.3 million on average.

And the poorest region in these terms is Extremadura. It has 907 multimillionaires earning a mean of €2.2 million per year, according to the tax office’s statistics.


WIKILEAKS founder and one of the world’s most wanted men, Julian Assange, has supported Catalan separatists causing a backlash from Spain and the Ecuadorian government.

Late last year Assange hosted two Catalan separatist leaders in Ecuador’s embassy. He said their independence movement was “the most disciplined Gandhian project since Gandhi,” in a tweet.

The Catalan independence movement has landed Spain into its deepest political crisis since the end of Franco’s dictatorship.

Assange reportedly also used social media to support independence efforts from a distance.

Spain’s foreign minister Alfonso Dastis said attempts had been made “to intervene, manipulate and affect what should be the natural democratic course of events in Catalonia.”

Ecuador - which maintains strong links with ex-colonial power Spain - reportedly shut off Assange’s Wi-Fi connection after he trod on its diplomatic toes.

Ecuador’s London embassy has been a refuge for Assange for nearly six years. He fears extradition to the United States and a life sentence if he steps outside.

His organisation uncovered sensitive information in the US’s Iraq war campaign which was said to put the superpower’s national security at risk.

The Australian maverick is also under the spotlight for potentially influencing the most recent US general election.

THE Costa del Sol is at risk of having its very own drug cartel as the region’s narco-gangs grow bolder, according to a police union.

Last month saw a swathe of serious incidents at the hands of narcos.

A police sting seized 8.7 tonnes of cocaine hidden in a container ship arriving in Cadiz from Colombia last month. It was the largest seizure on record.

The mega drug bust meant Police grabbed more cocaine in the strait of Gibraltar by the end of April this year than in the whole of 2017. The sum of the white stuff caught this year weighed 11.8 tonnes.

And police estimate only 20 per cent of drugs which enter Spain actually get stopped.

A nine-year-old boy was killed when a boat linked to drug smuggling collided with the vessel he and his father were on last Monday.

“The surge in violence by drug traffickers is increasing. There are more and more attacks,” according Cadiz Guardia Civil union official, Juan Encinas.

A top trafficker recently escaped from police custody when fellow gang members stormed a hospital in la Linea de la Concepcion where he was being monitored.

Algeciras locals protested the worsening drug gang violence in the main square last week after officers were beaten with broken bottles as they left a restaurant.

The national government is responding, but unions claims the police reinforcements being sent are not enough.

Unions are demanding an extra 300 officers and tougher penalties for youths involved in the drugs trade.

Cadiz’s 31.25 per cent youth unemployment rate is making its young people easy pickings for gang leaders, Juan Fernandez, the Guardia Civil’s national union (AUGC) spokesperson said.

“It is seen less of a crime and more as a way of life,” Fernandez added

He thinks a cartel - formed by a merger between rival gangs and which has the power to penetrate institutions - is not far off.

But the claim was strongly rejected by Spain’s Interior minister Juan ignacio Zoido.


In another ...hsopital jumped

There is a threat of the 30 gangs megring

Cadiz is the largest drugs entry point in the whole of Europe. A total of 40 per of all narcotics entering Spain pass through the ancient port.

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