Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Police action not political but Trade Union pressure, says SUP

F Oliva reports

Frontier work-to-rule could end today * Union calls for construction of new frontier complex

Spanish Police Union work to rules have been causing serious delays at the Gibraltar Frontier during August.  It is hoped the dispute will be over shortly.The Policia Nacional has not attempted to interfere or harm the negotiations of the Tripartite Forum or the talks between the Gibraltar Government and Spain, Juan Manuel Sanchez, spokesman for the La Linea branch of the Sindicato Unificado de Policia (SUP), said to the Chronicle yesterday.

(Ed's note: The start of this paragraph is missing from the Chronicle's online news report!)... frontier which led to lengthy delays in crossing, their intention had been to apply pressure on the Spanish Government “to deliver on its word” following the signing of the annual police pay review.

It appears that Madrid has finally given the go-ahead for the implementation of the agreement as from the beginning of the week.

And barring a last minute surprise, a general assembly of SUP members at the Comisaria later today should back the formal lifting of all industrial action measures at the border and a return to normality.

“At present we are working normally and this should be confirmed by the assembly today,” he said.

Meanwhile Sr Sanchez has also called for the construction of a new frontier complex with modern facilities and an effective lay-out for the flow of vehicles and pedestrians.

He describes the current frontier as “third-world.”

“There should be two entry points into Gibraltar and two exit points, plus a channel for tourist coaches.

The frontier has to be renovated to get rid of the queues, and if this requires an agreement with the Gibraltar Government, so be it,”.

The Pay Dispute

The pay review had been agreed with the Minister for the Interior on April 5th 2005.

It has been the delay in the implementation of the deal and the payment of arrears that sparked off the work-to-rule action that was initially intended to have effect on a national scale.

The claim was divided in three segments – an increase of 30 euros a month in the basic salary, the consolidation of half the productivity allowance, in effect an extra 55 euros a month, and for the increases to be applied retrospectively to January.

Sr Sanchez accepts that it has been the La Linea-Gibraltar border where the police action has been most noticeable, although was quick to point out that the SUP had instructed its members to apply the work to rule throughout Spain.

He said action in the Algeciras Port had also been taken but there had been intervention by the Spanish Government to reduce its effect.

“There was clear interference to stop our action in the port since this would have created a huge crisis with Morocco.”

Sr Sanchez also argues that the choice of month for the action right in the middle of the summer had had far greater repercussions at the frontier than if this had been done in any other month.

He said that after a four month delay in the implementation of the pay review, the disgruntled policemen had not been willing to wait any longer.

“There are always queues in August because it is always a busier time,” he declared.

Historical Grievances

Meanwhile Sr Sanchez has also drawn attention to the long list of historical grievances that the Policia Nacional have suffered in La Linea over the past decade.

For example the official minimum complement for a city the size of La Linea should be 208 officers. Over the past few years transfers have vastly exceeded arrivals to the extent that today manpower stands at around only 140 policemen on duty.

“There has been a steady decline in numbers since the 1980’s when there were over 200 policemen.

Now with an open frontier and with the expansion of La Linea into the suburbs and the building of new districts, which means greater policing demands, we have a shortage of manpower.”

The SUP hope to fill at least 25 of those long-standing vacancies with the promotion of young recruits just out of the police academy, before the end of the year.

La Linea is also served by two other law-enforcement organisations, the Policia Local/Municipal that is controlled by the Ayuntamiento, and the Guardia Civil.

The general state of dilapidation of the Policia Nacional headquarters in La Linea which is badly in need of reinvestment and modernisation, is another of the pending claims that the police unions are constantly raising with the Ministerio del Interior.

Another irritant that provoked the Policia Nacional into action at the frontier, is that while they were engaged in difficult and lengthy negotiations to extract a 30 euros increase from the central Government for its members, the Ayuntamiento San Roque, that is also controlled by the PSOE, implemented a pay rise of 180 euros for the local police force [policia municipal] over the same period.

“The gulf in the salary of a local policeman, a regional policeman in the Basque Country of Catalonia and a Policia Nacional can reach between 60,000 to 70,000 pesetas, depending on the region. This just rubs salt in wounds, undermines morale and leads to a lack of motivation,” said Sr Sanchez.

As regards last week’s meeting with Salvador de la Encina (PSOE), Sr Sanchez said that the Campo socialist MP was acting as an envoy who affords them a measure of access to the Madrid Government in the formulation of their grievances.

Inter Union Rivalries

Police unions also have rivalries of their own. While the Sindicato Unificado de Policia has traditionally been the majority and dominant union in Spain, other unions have also emerged. The UFP followed suit while more recently the CEP [Confederacion Espanola de Policia] that resulted from the coalition of smaller unions, have now come forward and are attempting to establish a presence in La Linea.

There is some tension in relations between the SUP and the CEP. Sr Sanchez denies CEP claims that the delays at the border were caused not by the work to rule industrial action but by the application of counter-terrorism measures.

The CEP went as far as publicly stating that there was no industrial action at all. Sr Sanchez further describes the CEP as “incoherent.”

Ayuntamiento writes to Central Government

Meanwhile the La Linea councillor for security Francisco Muñiz has written to the Madrid Government supporting the call made from several quarters – including the SUP – for the Policia Nacional to be given the extra material and human resources it requires to continue doing its job “with the same degree of effectiveness and professionalism, despite the shortage of means and officers.”

A similar letter has also been written to Salvador de la Encina reminding him of “the promises made regarding the need for more policemen to be assigned to the La Linea Policia Nacional to fill existing vacancies.”

Sr Muñiz adds that La Linea’s peculiar policing situation is derived from several factors that would require additional resources for the Policia Nacional.

“Its status as a frontier town with the colony of Gibraltar, its long stretch of 12 kilometres of coastline and the geographical proximity with the African continent, result in a significant increase in population during the summer months. Contrary to what happens in other cities there is no reinforcement of the Policia Nacional complement,” he said.

This is the fifth letter on the subject addressed to the Minister for the Interior José Antonio Alonso.

More Delays?

Meanwhile, there have been unconfirmed reports that following the capture in La Linea of a vehicle that had smuggled a notable quantity of tobacco from Gibraltar, the Guardia Civil officers on duty had been reprimanded by their superiors. As a result this could lead to the Guardia Civil implementing tighter customs controls over the next few days.

Related Articles and Links:

21 August 2005 - PSOE MP to mediate as Frontier action set to continue

09 August 2005 - Work to rule by Policia Nacional creates bottleneck at frontier

08 August 2005 - Noisy frontier protest as car queues worsen

02 August 2005 - Go-Slow does not affect frontier flow

30 July 2005 - Spanish Police declare go-slow at Frontier

Policia Nacional

Spanish Police Trade Unions:

SUP - Sindicato Unificado de Policia
UFP - Union Federal Policia
CEP - Confederacion Espanola de Policia

RGP Officer's private car vandalised

Revenge attack

Not for the first time Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) officers have been the victims of intimidation.

The RGP last night reported that a person or persons unknown vandalised a private motorcar owned by an officer when it was parked at Drinkwater Road within Laguna Estate.

The police strongly suspect that the culprits targeted the vehicle knowing the owner to be an RGP officer.

Two tyres were slashed, both front and rear windscreens smashed together with the front right passenger window which had its bodywork scratched. Personal property was also stolen from the car.

No other reports of vehicles vandalised in the area have been received and the incident is currently being investigated.

Pensions focus at next Tripartite, says Spanish press report

*Spain could accept ‘350’

Spanish press reports have said that an autumn meeting of the tripartite co-operation process – Gibraltar, Spain and UK – will focus on the Spanish pensions claim.

The reports, which cite Spanish diplomatic sources, come at a time when Jose Carracao, the PSOE senator close to the Spanish Foreign Ministry (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores MAE) and a former Campo Mancomunidad president has publicly stated that he believes that the Spanish Government should also contribute financially to meeting the aspirations of the former Spanish workforce.

Estimates suggest that the cost could be in the 30 million euro mark. Sr Carracao said that Spain should make a symbolic contribution.

Meanwhile Sr Carracao is quoted as saying that one of the problems that remains on airport discussions is the presence or not of Spanish security officials in the airport’s single terminal. He says the problem is the control of non-EU travellers as Spain has Schengen obligations.

Sr Carracao has meanwhile suggested that as part of the negotiations Spain could see its way to accepting the ‘350’ international code for Gibraltar.

Moroccans dismayed by Ferry delays

At first glance, the queues in the ferry terminal seem far from unusual.

But the photo of this queue (not available online!) was taken last Friday at midnight, several hours after the ferry to Tangier was meant to have set sail.

FRS Ferry Jet similar to the one operated from Gibraltar to TangierScores of passengers were left with little option but to stand around waiting for the ship to turn up, in what regular users said was just the latest in a long history of delays involving the Tangier ferry operated by Ferrys Rápidos del Sur (FRS).

In any other port, dissatisfied customers would simply switch ferry operator. In Gibraltar, however, there is only FRS and its £35 round-trip ticket across the Strait.

On Friday, the Tangier ferry should have left at 9.15pm. In the event, it sailed at just after 1am on Saturday morning.

Passengers who had arrived before 8pm to board the ship were left waiting for about five hours, much of that time in the dark and without toilet facilities. The queues, including vehicles, stretched from inside the ferry terminal all the way to the nearby petrol station.

There were men, women and children of all ages there, most of them Moroccans but also including some locals and tourists heading off for the weekend.

Many of those waiting to board the ship said they faced long journeys after arriving in Tangier, with some of them travelling as far inland as Fez, Meknes or Rabat.

The delay in Gibraltar would only add to their journey.

“We’re sick of suffering,” said one Moroccan man. “All we want is for the ferry company to meet their commitments.”

“Why does no one do anything?” another man asked.

Gibraltar Port Authority officials on the scene on Friday said they would look into the continued delays but, in reality, their options for action are limited.

Part of the problem is that the FRS ferry operates several itineraries that include stops in Tangier, Tarifa and Algeciras, as well as Gibraltar. The company makes money by running its vessels on as many itineraries as possible, with each of ship operating five or six round trips across the Strait of Gibraltar daily.

But delays at any of the ports naturally have a knock-on effect on subsequent calls, particularly during this time of the year when hundreds of thousands of migrant north African workers are heading back to jobs in Europe after the summer holidays.

The numbers are truly staggering. According to Spanish authorities, during the outbound phase of the Operación Paso del Estrecho, 1.4 million passengers and 342,357 vehicles caught ferries from Europe to Morocco, most of them from Algeciras.

As of last weekend, 792,884 passengers and 185,166 vehicles had already made the trip back to Europe since mid-July, most of them boarding ships in Tangier.

With nine companies operating services across the Strait of Gibraltar from both Spain and France, congestion in the Moroccan port is a major issue.

“There is a physical reality to contend with because there are only a limited number of berths in Tangier,” said Luis Mora, FRS managing director.

Weather conditions can also have an impact on timetables, not least because the vessel operating the service from Gibraltar to Tangier is a fast ferry, a type of ship whose performance is particularly susceptible to the state of the sea. In simple terms, it has to slow down in rough weather.

“FRS does everything it can to minimise these delays,” Mr Mora said.

“A delay in Gibraltar or any other port will filter through to the subsequent itineraries and cause us problems.”

For the Moroccan community here, which has no other way of getting home but by sea, such excuses and explanations, however plausible, offer little comfort. With no other option but the FRS ferry to Tangier, they can do little more than endure the delays as gracefully as possible and hope for the best.

New Party lashes out at Government Tourism Policy

Charles Gomez - Leader of New Gibraltar Democracy, Gibraltar's latest political partyThe Rock’s newest political party New Gibraltar Democracy that was formed just weeks ago, has criticised the GSD Government’s announcement of a £2m spending plan for the Upper Rock.

The party is led by well known local lawyer Charles Gomez.

In a statement issued yesterday Mr Gomez has accused the government of resorting to “hype” to “mask its shortcomings in tourism policy.”

And Mr Gomez has drawn attention to the fact that the nature reserve, which forms a major part of the tourist product, lacks toilet facilities.

Mr Gomez said:

“The GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats) Government says that it has allocated £2m to improve the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. The “Reserve” is our main tourist attraction and includes St Michael’s Cave and several historical sights of which the Moorish Castle has been closed for nearly two years. 750,000 visitors pay several million pounds a year to Government in the form of entrance fees (possibly as much as £4m per year). Yet, shamefully, this major component of our economy lacks something as essential as proper toilet facilities.

After nine years of GSD administration the long delayed decision to provide public lavatories at some unspecified future date is presented amid the customary fanfare and ministerial self-satisfaction. According to the minister, this represents “the very best (his) Government can do.

The people of Gibraltar may think that the GSD’s “very best” is simply not good enough.

Responsibility for this situation lies fully with the elected Government and recurring suggestions by GSD apologists that the fault lies with civil servants is not acceptable.

Meanwhile, the Government must disclose to the people details of what the £2m is to be spent on, what timetable has been set for execution and completion of works, and what players in the industry it has consulted before allocating the £2m to the Upper Rock.”

Related Article & Link:

30 August 2005 - £2M for Upper Rock 3 year programme gets underway

Charles A Gomez & Co Gibraltar Lawyer Website

Court stumped by Russian accent ‘I’m virgin’ claim

Gibraltar’s Magistrates Court officials were baffled yesterday by the case of a man with no documents who claimed to be from the “Virgin Islands” yet spoke with a marked Russian accent.

The man, who was detained by police after he failed to produce valid papers entitling him to be in Gibraltar, told the Magistrate’s Court that his name was Albert Virgin.

Asked where he was from, he replied “the Virgin Islands”, an apparent reference to the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

But Stipendiary Magistrate Charles Pitto made clear he was unconvinced that Mr Virgin was indeed from the “Virgin Islands”.

“You look and sound incredibly Russian to me,” he told the man. “What language do you speak?”

“The English language,” Mr Virgin replied in a thick Russian accent.

Mr Pitto called in the court’s Russian interpreter, who stood beside the defendant and translated the court’s proceedings.

Mr Virgin, who pleaded not guilty to the charge of being found without a valid permit or certificate, stared straight ahead and barely flinched as the translator spoke.

“I speak only English language,” he told the court again.

The police will now make enquiries with the authorities in the British Virgin Islands to establish whether or not Mr Virgin is telling the truth about his origins. In the meantime, he has been remanded in custody for a week.

The case was adjourned for a hearing in October.

Air pistol man charged

A local man appeared in the Magistrate’s Court yesterday charged with possessing an air pistol and using it in a threatening manner.

Police were called to a disturbance in Flat Bastion Road on Monday and arrested Stephen Costa, who gave his address in court as 32/2 Prince Edward’s Road.

He had allegedly threatened to use the air pistol to shoot one of the people he had been arguing with.

Crown prosecutor Johan Fernandez told the court that Mr Costa had struggled violently as he was arrested and had head-butted one of the police officers in the chest.

Mr Costa faces charges of using threatening behaviour, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer, along with possession of the air pistol and 116 pellets. He was also found in possession of a small amount of cannabis resin.

Mr Costa, who also faces a number of separate charges relating to previous incidents, was on bail at the time of his arrest on Monday.

The hearing was adjourned and he was remanded in custody.

Palm tree rescued from demilition works

The Wellington Memorial at the Gibraltar Botanical Gardens, the new site for the Date Palm rescued from demolition at the Generating StationA five metre tall Date Palm has been rescued by the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens from the demolition of the old generating station.

In an exercise funded by the developer of the site, with the co-operation of the Environment Ministry, the large tree was transferred to its new location on Wednesday afternoon in an operation that involved heavy digging and lifting equipment and three hours work.

A spokesman for the gardens said:

“The palm tree had been growing in a planter next to a building in the courtyard of the generating station below Line Wall Road.

Its new location is near the Wellington Memorial in the Alameda Gardens, in a bed that is earmarked for further landscaping in the near future.

Provided it takes - and the chances are good - it should develop to its full potential and become a feature at the southern end of the Alameda’s Upper Walk.

This adds to the Botanic Garden’s increasing collection of palm trees of different species, and becomes the largest Date Palm in this collection.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Holliday announces Training opportunities in shipping sector

The Gibraltar Government has announced that two young Gibraltarians have been awarded scholarships which will enable them to attain qualifications as sea-going Deck Officer and sea-going Engineer Officer on merchant navy ships, Minister for Trade and Industry Joe Holliday has said.

The successful applicants are Joseph Louis Clinton, who will be training as a Deck Officer, and Craig Key, who will be training as an Engineer Officer.

Both cadets will commence their formal training at Warsash Maritime Centre in Southampton on September 5th 2005, and will be following a three year programme of studies which includes practical experience at sea. Upon successful completion of their training the Officer Cadets will attain an internationally recognised “Certificate of Competency as an Officer In-Charge of a Watch”.

Sponsorship of the Merchant Navy Cadets is being provided by the Department of Education and Training on behalf of the Government of Gibraltar in partnership with Aegean Bunkering (Gib) Ltd, Maritime Service Shipping (Gib) Limited, Gibunco Group and Vemaoil Company Ltd.

The Minister with responsibility for shipping Joe Holliday said:

“It has been our intention for some time to introduce a structured training programme for the maritime sector, to train young Gibraltarians as future senior Port Officers, Ship Surveyors and Pilots. This initiative is now commencing.

I wish to congratulate the two Merchant Navy Cadets on their selection. I wish them all the best in their forthcoming training.

I am also grateful to the four sponsoring companies who have teamed up with the Government in order to make this training opportunity possible.”

Further details with regard to the training programme which the two Cadets will follow may be obtained from the Training Unit at the Department of Education and Training or the Maritime Administrator at the Registry of Ships.

A further training opportunity for other young Gibraltarians wishing to pursue a maritime career as an officer on a merchant navy ship will be offered by the Government in partnership with the private sector sponsors, tenable as from autumn 2006.

New entrants sustain Isola law firm tradition

Thursday was a memorable day for the firm of Isola & Isola in which it celebrated the call to the Gibraltar Bar of three young lawyers who have joined the firm.

At a drinks party at the Caleta Hotel the Partners of the Firm entertained family and guests of Joseph P Garcia, Adrian M Pilcher and Jamie Trinidad, two of whom were called to the Gibraltar Bar on Thursday and the third, a short time ago.

Jamie Trinidad, who is a member of Lincoln’s Inn, was called to the Bar in London in 2001. He was educated at Bayside School, Gibraltar, subsequently obtaining an Honours Degree in English and French Law at Exeter University, a Maîtrise in European Law at Rennes University and a Masters in International Human Rights Law at Oxford University.

Prior to taking up his appointment at Isola & Isola he was earlier this year visiting Professor of Law at Tsinghua University, Beijing and at the National Judicial College of China.

Adrian Pilcher was educated at Bayside School, Gibraltar and subsequently obtained an honours degree in English Literature at Kingston University. He then did a conversion to law, obtaining a Post Graduate Diploma in Law before completing his Bar Vocational Course at the Inns of Court School of Law, London.

Joseph P. Garcia is the grandson of Peter J. Isola, the Senior Partner of the firm. For him and for the firm it is a unique occasion in that he is the first of the fifth generation of lawyers in the family. He was called to the Bar in England in 2004 and is a member of the Inner Temple. He was educated at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire following a family tradition that dates back to 1885. He obtained a joint Honours Degree in Philosophy and Spanish in Bristol University and then converted to law with a Post Graduate Diploma before completing his Bar Vocational Course at the BPP Law School.

The Call to the Bar in Gibraltar of Joseph Garcia represented the fifth generation of family lawyers in the firm.

Horace Parodi, the great-uncle of the present Senior Partner was called to the English Bar in 1891 and began to practise in Gibraltar in the following year. He practised on his own until he was joined by his nephew, Albert R. Isola the great-grandfather of Joseph Garcia in 1920.

Although the Bar in the first half of the 20th century was significantly smaller than it is today, it is clear from the account of the funeral of Horace Parodi reported in the Gibraltar Chronicle of the time that Mr Parody was very much a respected member of the Gibraltar community.

Following his funeral, a tribute was paid to him by the Members of the Bar and the Judiciary in the Supreme Court of Gibraltar and the Chief Justice at the time, Sir Daniel D Tudor KC, associated himself with the remarks made from the Bar. He knew, he said, that he could also speak for his predecessor, Sir Bartlel Frere who had for many years maintained a warm friendship with Mr Parodi. The many tokens of sorrow shown at the funeral convinced him that the late Mr Parodi must have been a man respected by all and endeared to many.

“The firm of Isola & Isola is obviously proud of its long history but is now very much a firm of many lawyers, and specialities and geared to the challenges any progressive form must meet in the modern world.

Although the traditional family basis is important to all members of the firm it looks forward to a future based on its extended basis as a family of lawyers with many varied specialities and expertise” said Mr Isola.

Government publishes terms for Waterport Terraces

An advertisement in today’s Chronicle sets out the terms for purchasing a property at the Waterport Terraces development.

Applications have to be in by the end of September but very strict criteria is being applied on eligibility to purchase and on resale terms. Resale restrictions and method of allocation are also set out.

Related Article:

23 August 2005 - Government announces start of information and sales campaign for Waterport Terraces housing development

Prison for local man

A local man has been sentenced to four months imprisonment after pleading guilty to a charge of burglary at the Magistrates Court.

An Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) spokesman said:

“During the early hours of February 1st 2005, a burglary was reported to the police at St Michael’s Cabin where damage had been caused to the entrance of the premises and once therein had stolen approximately £450 from the poker gaming machine.

Enquiries carried out by CID officers of the RGP culminated in the arrest of a number of persons.

On August 26th 2005 at the Magistrates Court, Christian Chipolina of 10 Rosia Steps pleaded guilty to burglary at the said premises, and was sentenced to four months imprisonment.”

Niger appeal reaches £10,000

The Gibraltar Niger Appeal fund has reached £10,000.

The Gibraltar Red Cross which opened the account at Barclays Bank said it would only remain open for another week. Treasurer Charlie Montegriffo said the account would only remain open until next Friday.

‘The Gibraltar Red Cross Niger Appeal Fund’ is at Barclays Bank at 84-90 Main Street. The Account Number is: 1110777.

Planning Commission rejects Funicular Project

21st Century Rock Funicular Project * DPC says it would be “a permanent scar on the Rock”

A photomontage of the failed Gibraltar Funicular project turned down by the Planning Commission today - Click to view larger image.The government has sent a damning refusal notice to 21st Century Rock, the developer behind the controversial funicular project, formally turning down its application for outline planning permission for the project.

From the document it is clear that officials fear the funicular’s top station will spoil the Rock’s emblematic profile and that the project, which generated significant public opposition, will have an unacceptable adverse impact on wildlife and heritage sites in the area.

In a five-page letter dated July 28th, the Development and Planning Commission set out the 12 reasons on which it was basing its decision to turn down the application to build a rail running from the northern side of Casemates to the top of the Rock.

The DPC’s objections ranged from environmental and heritage issues to technical concerns about safety during the construction phase. But taken as a whole, they left little doubt that the commission – or at least the vast majority of its members – was fundamentally opposed to the scheme.

The DPC said the project was not compatible with nature laws protecting the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, adding that it contravened planning policies set out in government development plans dating back to 1991 and 1993.

The funicular would have “an unacceptable detrimental effect on the appearance, setting and integrity of numerous heritage sites” and was not in line with Gibraltar’s application to UNESCO for World Heritage Status.

It would also disturb archaeological deposits in the area, which the government plans to excavate as part of a long-term research programme.

The striking design for the funicular’s top station, perhaps the most publicly criticised aspect of the plan, also came under flack.

“The proposed siting and design of the upper terminal would have a significant adverse effect on the cultural heritage value of the Rock’s profile that has historically served to establish the Rock of Gibraltar as an important landmark, both geographically and metaphorically,” the DPC’s refusal notice said.

“The proposed development would seriously prejudice the government’s plans to carry out environmental improvements to the Northern Defence’s and to open the area up for public access as a tourist attraction,” it added.

The refusal notice said the funicular’s rail would amount to an “unacceptable and conspicuous man-made linear feature” in an otherwise mostly natural landscape, adding that even after mitigation measures and replanting took place, the funicular would represent “a permanent scar” on the Rock.

The DPC noted that the forecast 750,000 tourists who, according to the developer, will use the funicular every year would have a “devastating” effect on the ecology of the area in question. The commission also remained unconvinced by the company’s argument that most of those visitors would arrive on foot and highlighted the potential for traffic chaos in the area around the bottom station, close to Casemates.

The DPC also voiced concerns that the 21st Century Rock had provided “insufficient evidence” that the blasting techniques to be used in the tunnelling phase of the construction could be done safely and without risk to nearby residents. In a related point, it added:

“The risk of rock fall arising as a result of construction works and rock stabilisation is significant and it has not been adequately demonstrated that the risk can be reduced to acceptable levels.”

The company had 28 days from receipt of the letter to appeal the DPC’s decision, though the Chronicle understands that it has asked for an extension on this time period and will be granted one to the end of September.

The DPC’s decision is available for viewing by the public at the town planning office in Europort.

Related Articles:

29 July 2005 - DPC to inform Developer of the reasons for refusal

11 May 2005 - Anti-Funicular Groups welcome DPC decision

05 May 2005 - Funicular Proposal fails at first stage

27 March 2005 - Gibraltar News Online Poll gives a resounding 'No' to proposed Funicular Project

Funicular Project Photomontage

£2M for Upper Rock 3 year programme gets underway

Upper Rock Nature Reserve in Gibraltar © Kelly A Loddo
By Alice Mascarenhas

Around £2 million will be spent by the Government over the next three years to improve the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.

The Gibraltar Tourist Board (GTB) has put into motion the three-year programme announced during the Budget Session of the House of Assembly by Tourism Minister Joe Holliday which will upgrade both the present sites and see the introduction of new attractions.

Joe Holliday yesterday morning toured the various sites looking to see how some of the proposals are going to be integrated into the new visitor experience of this major tourist attraction which attracts some 750,000 visitors a year.

The main works will begin after the summer. Mr Holliday was keen to point out that this was just phase one of the project for which £650,000 had already been allocated for major improvements in this area in this financial year.

In its initial stages the project will enhance some of the already popular sites.

St. Michael's Cave has interested visitors to Gibraltar since the days of the Romans. Nowadays, often used for public Concerts, The Cave was long believed to be bottomless, giving birth to the story that Gibraltar was linked to the continent of Africa by a subterranean passage 15 miles (24 kilometres) long.The Minister toured St Michael’s Cave, the Apes Den, Princess Caroline’s Battery, the new Rock and Fortress experience. He was presented with a general view of all the sites to see how the project was coming along and what would develop.

Mr Holliday confirmed that the much needed enhancements of both Royal Anglian Way and Mediterranean Steps would be a part of this project. However, neither of these will be tackled in the first year.

Signage, railings and much needed toilet facilities will be included in this first phase.

A Barbary Macaque resident of the Ape's Den in Gibraltar and babyA new apes den site will also be developed. Situated at Trovey Battery half way between the current apes den and Princess Caroline’s Battery. The aim is to relocate some of the ape packs to this area to enhance their quality of life.

Mr Holiday said this would change the concept of how we view the apes today with less interaction with the visitor in this area. One of the main reasons for doing this is because visitors continue feed the apes despite the warnings.

“That is where the future lies, we cannot continue to allow visitors to integrate with these animals at the levels they always have because it is not good for the animals.”

Mr Holliday said GONHS (Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society) would continue to be involved with the apes project and given its own advise and had its own input on how to create a new and better experience all round and at the same time improve the quality of life of the animals.

“The improvements are for the well being of the apes which is paramount. And to also ensure the visitor enjoys the experience more,” assured Mr Holliday who also insisted the three year investment programme of this area was to ensure Gibraltar kept on upgrading this area, and also bringing it into line with visitor expectation.

“It is our main tourist attraction and we have to do the very best we can,” he added.

“The feedback we get from the visitors generally is very favourable. People enjoy the experience as it is now and it is one they look forward to,” he said.

The investment has been possible following the increase in the entrance ticket to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve as from April 12 this year.

“This will allow us more flexibility and to be able to invest in the product further,” he added.

Related Link:

Some images reproduced by kind permission of David Parody's Interactive Map of Gibraltar @

Gib men continue to be detained in Madrid

Drug money laundering ring

The two Gibraltarians detained in Madrid in connection with an alleged drugs and money-laundering organisation were arrested last weekend, even though the news only emerged on Thursday.

Spanish Police identified the men by their initials C.D. and L.C.D., adding only that they were British nationals resident in Gibraltar. But informed sources have confirmed that the men, father and son, are local.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has so far been unable to confirm whether or not the men have been visited and assisted by consular officials in Madrid.

Separately, a spokesman for the Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) said there had been no formal notification of the arrests from Spain and that police there had so far made no requests for information from Gibraltar.

One of the arrested men detained during Operacion 'Hench' on Thursday 26 August 2005, being immobilised.In two separate swoops as part of Operation 'Hench', Spanish police detained six men, including the two locals, and seized 17 kilos of pure heroin with a street value of 2.85 million Euros, 500,000 Euros in cash and three vehicles.

The Gibraltarians, along with a Pakistani national, are alleged to have been involved in laundering the proceeds of the drugs through an ancient banking system that originated in Asia and is known as ‘hawala’.

The other three are alleged to have handled the illicit trafficking of the heroin.

Related Articles:

26 August 2005 - Two local men arrested in Madrid drug money laundering operation

Gibraltar Scholars 2005

A total of ten students have this year achieved a minimum of three grade As at ‘A’ level in one sitting.

The Minister for Education, Dr Bernard Linares will celebrate the achievements of these Gibraltar Scholars at a ceremony next week.

Each student will receive a certificate along with a cheque for £100. The ceremony will take place at Bleak House.

Related Articles & Links:

26 August 2005 - GCSE Gibraltar Students also reach high standards

19 August 2005 - Another record number of passes at ‘A’ Level

GCE ‘A’ Level Results 2005 - Download
AS Level results / A Level results

Gibraltar Government Official Statement: GCSE Exam Results

Gibraltar Government Education & Training Pages

Gibraltar College of Further Education

Bayside Comprehensive School

Westside Comprehensive School

Fraudster imprisoned

A Spanish national Jose Maria Orozco Bueno, 22, has been sentenced to four months prison on several counts of obtaining property by deception.

On Wednesday a Financial Crime Unit investigation into the unauthorised use of a stolen cheque book in the period April 19 to May 3 of this year ended with Orozco’s arrest.

He was also convicted of being in possession of a small amount of cannabis resin.

The charges were evading liability by deception, theft and five counts of obtaining property by deception.

He was also ordered to pay £964.43 in compensation.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Two local men arrested in Madrid drug money laundering operation

Spanish police heroin seizure

Two Gibraltarians were arrested in Madrid yesterday in a police swoop on an organisation allegedly involved in smuggling heroin and laundering the proceeds through an alternative, unofficial banking system known as ‘hawala’. Spanish police detained six men, including the two locals, and seized 17 kilos of pure heroin with a street value of 2.85 million Euros, 500,000 Euros in cash and three vehicles.

According to the Spanish Ministry of the Interior (Ministerio del Interior) in Madrid, the operation began three months ago when the Brigada Central de Estupefacientes identified an organisation made up of two closely linked groups, one involved in heroin smuggling and the other in money laundering.

“Both were perfectly linked and coordinated,” the ministry said in a detailed and lengthy statement on the operation.

Early this month, three drug traffickers travelled to the city of Castellón to pick up the heroin, which was destined for distribution in Madrid and its suburbs.

The three were arrested as they returned to the Spanish capital in two vehicles, the first car acting as a scout for police controls.

They were identified as J.M.J and A.V.J, both resident in Madrid, and J.J.O.P, a resident of Málaga.

In a related operation, three men were arrested in connection with the alleged laundering of the proceeds from the sale of the heroin.

The three were identified as H.S.A, a Pakistani national, and C.D and L.C.D, described by the Interior Ministry as “English nationals and resident in Gibraltar”. Informed sources told the Chronicle that the men, father and son, were Gibraltarians.

At the time of their arrest, the two Gibraltar residents were carrying a backpack with 163,000 Euros in cash.

Their vehicle, a fast car valued at 120,000 Euros, was also seized.

Spanish police also carried out a number of searches in residential premises in Madrid and found money-counting machines and 310,000 Euros in cash in the Pakistani national’s home.

The proceeds from the heroin were allegedly laundered using an ancient banking system known as 'hawala'.

The system, which originated in south Asia, exists in parallel to traditional financial structures and is routinely used around the world to conduct legitimate money transfers.
But it is also open to abuse.

Hawala allows the transfer of funds with little or no paperwork, relying on trust and deep rooted, close relationships between dealers around the world.

“The components of hawala that distinguish it from other remittance systems are trust and the extensive use of connections such as family relationships or regional affiliations,” says a report on hawala and money laundering prepared by Interpol.

“Unlike traditional banking…hawala makes minimal (often no) use of any sort of negotiable instrument.

Transfers of money take place based on communications between members of a network of hawaladars, or hawala dealers.”

The Interpol report adds that, in common with any financial system, hawala can and does have a role in money laundering.

“Hawala transfers leave a sparse or confusing paper trail if any,” the report says.

“Even when invoice manipulation is used, the mixture of legal goods and illegal money, confusion about ‘valid’ prices and a possibly complex international shipping network create a trail much more complicated than a simple wire transfer.”

Spanish police said the investigation, codenamed Operation Hench, remained open.

Informed sources said investigators would be closely checking the backgrounds and connections of the arrested men, both in Spain and in other countries.

The investigation will likely include a security dimension because several probes into recent terrorist atrocities, including the Madrid bomb blasts, have established links between the illicit drugs trade and terrorist groups.

Likewise, the hawala system is known to have been used in the past to finance terrorist activity.

GCSE Gibraltar Students also reach high standards

By Alice Mascarenhas

Bayside, Westside and Gibraltar College students will today be looking ahead to further achievements in education after another successful year at GCSE.

Once again the high standards achieved by the secondary schools and college in the recent past has been maintained with an overall pass rate of 66% from A* - C.

According to the Department of Education these results are well above the national average in UK with a 61.2%.

Similarly local percentages of A grades (with 29% in Bayside and 22% in Westside) are higher than the 18.4% achieved in the UK.

One exceptional student who has been given special mention by the Department of Education is Luke Perera who obtained 10 A stars. Luke has received letters of commendation by the AQA (Allied Qualifications Authority) Board for scoring one of the top five marks among all AQA candidates in UK in Sociology, History and English Literature.

Luke told the Chronicle yesterday, that he could not believe he had done so well. Holding on to his AQA Board letter he proudly showed off his achievement to everyone.

“I worked quite hard,” he said. All smiles he added, “I am very pleased and very surprised. I was very surprised when I actually got my results.” Luke had no doubt as to his A Level’s. “English Literature, History, Sociology and RE,” he said, and although he is considering a degree in law as a future option, he still has not made up his mind. In English Literature he achieved the top five out of over 47,000 students, in History out of 22,000 and in Sociology out of 13,000.

Yesterday Education Minister Dr Bernard Linares said he was very pleased with all these results which demonstrated the high standard of Gibraltar’s Education system. He congratulated all successful students and their teachers.

Following the excellent results achieved last week by A Level and AS Level students, both headmasters Ivan Navas (Bayside) and Alan Gordon (Westside) were all smiles again after viewing the results.

Ivan Navas first spoke of his delight at what Luke had achieved by coming in the top five in the UK in the three subjects. The overall pass rate at Bayside (A to C grades) was 64%.

“The results does not vary that much from last year and proves we continue to do very well.”

Mr Navas said ICT as a subject was gathering momentum because of its importance in social terms.

History was another subject which kept growing as did technology.

“We must congratulate the whole teaching profession as well as the students,” and pointed out that it was important to highlight that Bayside did not screen the boys when it came to taking exams.

“We allow a lot of boys to take exams and even by doing that we achieve these results and this is important,” he said

The total number of entries for Bayside was 1331. English Literature saw 50 students achieve a 100% pass rate A to C.

In Physics 38 students achieved an 84% pass rate A to C, with 108 students achieving 97% in A to C pass rates.

At Westside Deputy Head designate, Michael Grech, was just as pleased about the students in his school. The overall pass rate here (A to C) was similar to last year at 67%.

“The results are very much as expected with no major differences and we are very pleased with the exams. Three girls achieved As and A Stars. 49% got A Stars.”

It is a good set of results and we are now looking forward to the next stage,” he said pointing out that the intake at A Level will probably be reasonably high but what will make the difference will be options chosen by the students.

The total number of entries for Westside was 1371. English Literature saw 81 students achieving a pass rate A to C of 96%. 130 students sat the Science Double Award achieving a 91% pass rate A to C.

Principal at the Gibraltar College Victor Hermida said the overall results at the college had been fantastic.

The College caters for its own students and a large number of private candidates as well.

In both GCSEs and GNVQs the college achieved an 88% pass rate A to E.

There were 280 exams sat this year at the College which achieved a pass rate of 48% A to C.

Related Links:

GCE ‘A’ Level Results 2005 - Download
AS Level results / A Level results

Gibraltar Government Official Statement: GCSE Exam Results

Gibraltar Government Education & Training Pages

Gibraltar College of Further Education

Bayside Comprehensive School

Westside Comprehensive School

Juarez worried by media effects on Gibraltar talks

Mayor of La Linea Juan Carlos Juarez has said that media over-exposure can be detrimental to the current talks of the Tripartite Forum.

Sr Juarez said he had not been briefed yet by the Spanish Foreign Office (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores MAE) following the meeting with the Chief Minister in Málaga, but said that opening these talks to media coverage could prejudice a future agreement.

“We should not forget that there are voices in Gibraltar that are against an agreement,” he added.

Felipe and Borrell at Tarifa Seminar

Former Spanish president Felipe Gonzalez
and former PSOE leader Josep Borrell who is currently the President of the European Parliament, have been invited by the Campo press association to address their annual conference in Tarifa between 22-25 September.

Spaniard arrested for threats in name of Al Qaeda

Spanish police said yesterday they had arrested a Spanish man on suspicion of sending threatening faxes in the name of al Qaeda.

The man, identified only as J.R.M., would be charged with “making threats in the name of a terrorist group”, a police spokesman said.

The faxes were written in Arabic and sent to four or five editorial offices, including newspapers and a television and radio station, the spokesman said.

Newspaper ABC said it had received one of the faxes and that the threat it contained was against the Vatican and connected with the war in Iraq.

The police spokesman was unable to say whether there were likely to be more arrests or whether there were grounds to think Al Qaeda was actually involved.

“We always take them (threats) seriously ... sometimes the person later turns out to be a crackpot,” he said.

Clean Up The World - Gibraltar

The Environmental Safety Group organising Gibraltar's Clean up the World Weekend on 18th and 19th September 2005
The Environmental Safety Group (ESG) would like to update the community over its plans and progress with the Clean up the World event it is co-ordinating with the support of over twenty different organisations and services.

Well into halfway through its planning for the activities it is now clear that a minimum of 12 areas will receive attention by the community over the weekend of the September 17 and 18 with removal of litter being the primary objective.

Teams are now being assembled and a call is being made for more volunteers to sign up and support what will be the first of what is hoped to be an annual community clean up effort.

“Littering and vandalism is a serious matter that concerns many and affects us all but is by no means confined to Gibraltar as the flagged weekend will see over 100 other countries and over 30 million people together participating in this hands-on community action,” said Janet Howitt.

“It is understood that those who wantonly litter may continue to do so in spite of this clean up. However, it is also hoped that a strong signal will be given through this community effort that is time for change; that it is not acceptable to chuck litter about and that the majority of people in Gibraltar care about how this degrades our environment.”

The ESG says it hopes that more people will sign up to help out. Given the scale of the operation there will be many jobs to do to ensure its success.

For more details please contact Janet Howitt on 43156 - Ernest Teuma 74467 - Ewen Clinton 50530 - Tom Scott 58009259

Related Articles & Links:

05 August 2005 - Clean up the World Meeting

17 June 2005 - Article: Clean up the World

Clean up the World Official Website

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Caruana raises prospect of Airport deal before 2006

Campo welcomes signs of end to impasse

Chief Minister Peter Caruana, Chief Minister, and Bernardino Leon, Spain’s Minister for Europe, stepped out from a three hour dinner in Torremolinos, Malaga early yesterday to briefly talk to the press and declare that their continued commitment to make progress on the relationship between Gibraltar and Madrid will continue.

An airport agreement is possible before the year ends, Mr Caruana said. This emerged just after midnight that the bilateral session, ahead of a full ministerial in the autumn which would be the first to involve Miguel Angel Moratinos and Jack Straw the Spanish and British foreign ministers. Talks, they said, had been friendly and that they felt progress had been made.

“It has been little more than revisiting the agenda of the meetings of the forum in its first two sessions, seeing what progress has been made and what issues remain outstanding."

"For example, on the possibility of an airport agreement we have gone over the outstanding issues and have to make progress on resolving those and I think it is possible. It may be possible to have an agreement acceptable to both sides this year,” Mr Caruana told GBC.

He said there needs to be more work done before any such agreement could emerge in a full ministerial trilateral. He added that it is more important that the agreement be right rather than rushed.

An official described the mood as one of ‘moderate optimism’.

The issue of frontier queues was raised by Mr Caruana but there were reassurances that the current situation is the direct result of industrial action by Spanish police, ‘not politics’ and that the Spanish Foreign Ministry (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores MAE) is concerned at the negative effect this situation could have for current discussions.

Mr Caruana declined to go into detail but said that for an agreement to be acceptable it has to leave British sovereignty intact.

“Nothing prejudices that is on the cards. Not because we don’t want it, because we don’t, but because that is not what this process is about.

This process is about co-operation, finding ways of resolving problems in a way that doesn’t prejudice either side on the question of sovereignty.”

He said that there are some issues on which the parties have different views of whether sovereignty is relevant or not but he saw a will to resolve these issues and that will is shared by the Gibraltar side.

“I think the result will be agreement which will be within the parameters that the Gibraltar Government has said it is operating by and which we are not going to change. If an agreement emerges it will be because it leaves the issue of sovereignty unaffected.”

Other issues on which progress was reported included telecommunications.

Meanwhile, Mr Caruana said that the Gibraltar position on pensions remained that UK would have to fund any agreement on this.

Meanwhile Campo Mancomunidad president Juan Montedeoca welcomed the news that there were clear signs of a will to unblock the airport impasse. He described the meeting as positive and also urged that progress be made on resolving the pensions issue.

Works at new Hospital to correct sewage defect

Work is being carried out in the basement of St Bernard’s Hospital to correct a ‘defect’ and increase the flow capacity of the building’s sewage pipes.

Patients have complained about the noise and vibrations generated by the machinery being used in the job, which started last week.

But the government said yesterday that the work was “necessary” and had to be carried out within the hospital’s “defects and liability period”, during which time the contractor is still liable for the expense of the project.

“The work being carried out is to correct a defect noticed during the defects and liability period for the building,” a spokesman for No. 6 Convent Place said in a written response to questions from the Chronicle.

“This defect was not anticipated during the construction phase.”

The government did not go into detail on the nature of the ‘defect’ but the Chronicle understands that it centres on the existing sewage pipes, which have proved insufficient to cope with the amount of waste produced by the hospital.

The work involves “concrete cutting” but this should be complete by the end of the week, the government’s written response said.

“The result will be an increase in the flow rate for water effluent from the building,” it added.

“The Government regrets any inconvenience caused to patients and users of St Bernard’s Hospital by the higher noise levels.

At the same time it would be irresponsible of Government not to have these necessary works carried out during the defects liability period, at the expense of the contractor.”

Body of German sailor to be flown home for post mortem

The 24-year old German sailor involved in a fatal diving accident off the port of Algeciras on Monday was dead by the time he reached Gibraltar, military sources said yesterday.

But his fellow crewmen, Gibraltar Services Police officers and British military personnel in Gibraltar fought to the last to try and save his life.

The sailor, who has not been identified, was still receiving intensive medical treatment as his ship came alongside a berth at the South Mole.

In an effort to revive him, he was also given electrical shocks with a defibrillator by emergency medical teams working on the quayside.

Their efforts ultimately proved futile and the man was pronounced dead shortly after he was brought ashore. Doctors concluded that he had died while the ship was still at sea.

Headquarters British Forces Gibraltar said yesterday that the sailor’s body would now be flown back to Germany and the post mortem carried out by the authorities there.

“The German sailor died on board FGS Homburg at sea and therefore on German soil,” it said in a statement.

“The coroner, Mr Charles Pitto, was therefore content to release the body to the German authorities for the post mortem to be conducted in Germany.”

FGS HomburgThe German mine hunter had stopped at the Spanish port while en route to Crete to join a NATO task force when the incident happened.

Commander Udo Sparwel, a spokesman for the German navy, said the diver was on a “routine diving exercise for training purposes” while the ship was at anchorage off Algeciras.

“Presently we have no details about what went wrong…because the investigation is ongoing.”

Although details remain to be confirmed, the man appears to have suffered decompression sickness – which is usually caused by surfacing too rapidly from a deep dive – and required treatment in a decompression chamber. That would explain the choice of Gibraltar over Algeciras, even though the Spanish port was closer.

The authorities in the Spanish port are not equipped with a decompression chamber, while British forces on the Rock have two, including one that can accommodate several men.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the German navy said the man had already started decompression treatment in a chamber on board the mine hunter.

“The sailor was treated immediately in the diver decompression chamber on board the ship and given intensive medical care,” the statement said.

“Intensive care action was going on when Homburg reached Gibraltar,” added Commander Sparwel yesterday.

“At the moment the cause of death is under investigation and still not known.”

Luftwaffe GAF CL60 similar to the one mentioned in this news item - Picture courtesy of Rainer Bexten -
On Tuesday, a German CL60 military aircraft arrived in Gibraltar to drop off a “rapid response team” to deal with the aftermath of Monday’s accident. The team included trained counsellors and medics to help the rest of the ship’s crew to come to terms with the death.

Commander Jock Gordon, Commander Operations for Gibraltar, said that this was normal procedure following a death on board a navy vessel. He added:

“When serving at sea, you are working as part of a very close team away from loved ones.

This makes the death of a member of crew particularly difficult. So, many navies [including Britain’s Royal Navy] have in place rapid response teams to help members of the crew deal with tragedies such as this.”

Related Article:

24 August 2005 - German sailor dies in diving accident off Gibraltar's coast

Festival revival well received by public, says Carseni

Public reaction to the idea of reviving the Gibraltar Song Festival has been very positive, local US based businessman Joe Carseni said to the Chronicle yesterday.

Mr Carseni, a former winner of one of the earlier editions of the festival who went on to become a successful touring artist in UK and several European countries, said he had received various inquiries from local singers like Andrea Martin and the Valerga Brothers expressing an interest in the idea.

He also declared that the format of the festival would be of the more conventional type of ballad rather than for purely pop or rock styles.

“My aim is to form a committee to get the ball rolling so that we can stage the event next year or in 2007,” he declared.

Initially his intention is to keep the festival local and move away from the external selection procedures which is believed to have killed off local interest, since when this was done by BASCA (British Academy of Composers & Songwriters), it resulted in only UK entries making it to the final.

“We want it to be as professional as possible but not as a money making venture but as a launching pad for local talent.

I had the opportunity and was able to take advantage of it. I want this to be a show-case for local artists.

However once the festival was established, Mr Carseni believes it could be upgraded into a professional event but this would have to be done “cautiously.

The idea is to put Gibraltar on the music map.”

He can be contacted at

Related Article:

22 August 2005 - Plan to revive The Gibraltar Song Festival

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

VOGG accuse Caruana of “creating mistrust”

Voice of Gibraltar Group (VOGG) has criticised Chief Minister Peter Caruana for creating “mistrust” in the current political developments in relation to Spain.

Spokesman Paul Tunbridge said:

“There have been disruptions at the frontier since the beginning of the month, with no signs of it abating. Then, the Guardia Civil’s incursion into Gibraltar Harbour and now, the Chief Minister ‘disturbs’ his repose for ‘preparatory’ talks at a secret location; secret for some, Malaga for others.

This together with the Chief Minister’s sudden departure, with the now customary minimum detail announced, are the type of occurrences that create speculation, scepticism and outright mistrust on The Rock. So much for transparency and accountabi-lity, so regularly vaunted by this administration.

After nearly a year of the ‘new climate’, the Spaniards maintain their position on sovereignty, with everything else conditional on the advancement of their claim. The UK has not abandoned its ‘Spanish Dimension” solution, but ‘allows’ the Gibraltar and Spanish Governments to ‘get on with it’.

The Chief Minister uses all his political and diplomatic attributes to square the
circle. More and more people now consider his stance as a rear - guard action, which can only lead to a ‘callejón sin salida’.”

Sandy Bay works halted as bathers confront contractors

GTB called to intervene

Angry users of Sandy Bay have condemned the start of works to build a protective wall along the length of much of the beach.

When regulars arrived at the beach yesterday, they found a team of workers using a JCB mechanical digger to dig a deep trench stretching from the existing retaining wall and running parallel to the changing rooms.

Concerned about potential safety risks on the busy beach, they alerted the Gibraltar Tourist Board (GTB) and crowded round to stop the workers from proceeding in their task.

They also complained that the ramp at the southern end of Sandy Bay had been dug up, making access for pedestrians difficult and, for vehicles and mothers pushing prams, nigh on impossible.

The GTB despatched product manager Marcelo Sanguinetti to the beach and the works were brought to a halt. Mr Sanguinetti said the contractor had been told it could not proceed with the job during the bathing season and that the trench was to be filled in. At around 6.30pm in the evening, the digger was ordered back down to the beach to cover up the hole.

Ángel Espina, a manager for the contractor, told the Chronicle that the works would now be put on hold until after the bathing season. He said the project had two main aims, the first to build a barrier along the beach to minimise the erosion of the sea on the buildings at Both Worlds.

The second element is to repair and widen the ramp at the southern end of the beach, particularly in order to allow easy access to emergency vehicles.

While regular users have been calling for this for some time, yesterday they were critical of the contractor’s decision to start the task in August when the beach is busy on a daily basis.

Even so, while members of the public use the hill routinely to make their way down to the beach – it is the only way vehicles and prams can reach the shore - the ramp is in fact part of Both Worlds and as such private property.

The problem for the contractor, Sr Espina said, is that the repairs on the ramp cannot proceed until the works on the beach, which is a public area, are completed and the JCB moved back from the shoreline. That means the entire project could remain paused until after the summer.

In the meantime, a safety fence will be erected around the dug-up ramp area to ensure no one gets hurt inadvertently. That, however, will probably mean users will only be able to access Sandy Bay via the steps at the northern end of the beach.

Government announce sale of Waterport Terraces

Gibraltar Government has announced that the marketing and information campaign in connection with the sale of Waterport Terraces will commence today.

A Convent Place spokesman said:

“Brochures including price lists and property specifications are available from the offices of GRP Investments Company Limited that is carrying out the housing development on behalf of the Government. The company is located on the top floor of Watergate House (ex-Health Centre building).

There will also be an exhibition relating to the Scheme, including models and plans, at the Casemates Gallery (top floor above the restaurants) which will be open to the public as from midday on Tuesday August 30th. This exhibition will be open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm up to and including Friday September 30th. Brochures will also be available at the exhibition as from next week.

Application forms and Conditions of Sale will be available as from Tuesday August 30 following the opening of the exhibition at both the GRP offices and Casemates Gallery.

Properties will not be sold on a “first come first served” basis and, therefore, there is no need for anyone to rush into any action. The deadline for submission of applications will be Friday September 30.”

GRP Investments Company Limited is a wholly-owned Government company.

German sailor dies in diving accident off Gibraltar's coast

A sailor on board a German mine hunter died after a diving accident off Gibraltar on Monday.

The vessel arrived at the Rock late in the evening and the man was rushed to the Royal Naval Hospital, but medics there were unable to revive him.

German military officials are heading to Gibraltar to interview other crewmembers on the ship and formally investigate the circumstances of the death.

FGS HomburgThe ship, called the FGS Homburg, was en route to Crete where it was to join a NATO task force.

There were no firm details as to the nature of the accident or why diving operations were being carried off Gibraltar.

In a statement, Headquarters British Forces Gibraltar said only that the incident took place in “the Bay of Algeciras”.

Yesterday, efforts were being made to contact the sailor’s family in Germany.

“The German military chain is responding at the moment,” a military spokeswoman said.
“They are sending people out to talk to the crew and will carry out an investigation.”

The shocked crew of the German mine hunter also offered their thanks for the help and attention they received once in Gibraltar.

“I am very grateful for the swift and professional assistance made on our behalf during this difficult time,” said Lieutenant Commander Michael Gierahn.

The Convent and British Forces Gibraltar flew their flags at half-mast yesterday as a mark of respect for the dead sailor.

Trafalgar paintings for charity campaign

A UK private art gallery located in Chester has come up with a novel idea to raise funds for the King George Fund for Sailors and Seafarers UK in connection with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

The gallery has secured the exclusive rights to a Nelson portrait by Sir William Beachey dating from 1801, to produce specially commissioned original ‘copies’ that had never been painted before.

A gallery spokesman said:

“This permission was given to us by Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, to produce our own original oil on canvas of the said original from a high resolution digital image that they provided.

This original stands 36x24 inches, and we will present it to the KGFS free of charge to be auctioned at one of the forthcoming Trafalgar night dinners in October.

The total proceeds will go directly to KGFS and Seafarers UK.

The plan is to produce a limited series of 200 gicleé prints on canvas and paper to be sold and to raise funds from this limited edition.”

The project has been produced in association with Pamela Brown, who is regional organiser for the KGFS Seafarers UK charity.

Related Articles & Links:

Trafalgar celebrations announced

200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

The Battle of TrafalgarBattle of Trafalgar at

Gibraltar Government Trafalgar Celebrations - Programme of Events.

Big fish!

Stone Bass or Wreckfish - Polyprion americanus
A fish weighing 122 pounds was caught on a long line at the weekend in the area of Catalan Bay.

The fish, a Stone Bass, was caught by Tony Ferro, Dino Parody and Francis Parody.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Caruana to meet De Leon today ahead of full Ministerial talks

Trilateral forum

Chief Minister Peter Caruana, is likely to be holding talks with Miguel Angel Moratinos, Spanish Foreign Minister and Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary in the coming weeks.

This emerged yesterday as No. 6 announced that Mr Caruana will have a working dinner this evening with Bernardino de Leon, Secretary of State at the Spanish Foreign Ministry (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores MAE).

The meeting was announced yesterday in a statement from No. 6 which said this is “to prepare for the full ministerial round of the Trilateral Forum envisaged in the autumn”.

At tonight’s session, which the Chronicle believes is likely to be held in Malaga, the Chief Minister will be accompanied by Chief Secretary, Ernest Montado and Sr de Leon will be accompanied by Jose Pons, Director General for Europe at the Spanish Foreign Ministry.

The outcome of this evening’s encounter is likely to provide an indicator of how the process is developing, especially given the increased focus on finding a workable agreement on the airport that would open out new routes including with Spain itself.

Madrid has worked on improving the climate for dialogue but an article this summer in the Chronicle by Sr Pons, who will be at tonight’s encounter, fuelled growing comment from political observers that a decision point has been reached in the process in which Spain wants to see if Gibraltar is prepared to embark on what could be a difficult or politically demanding process.

Diplomats have previously indicated that neither Sr Moratinos nor Mr Straw are likely to be called into direct participation in the process unless the heads of agreement are reasonably advanced.

In his article last month Sr Pons described an improved climate in relations following Sr Moratinos having written a tercentenary article in El Pais, August 2003, seeking a new way forward.

Sr Pons last month stressed that the new process not only comes with a better climate but also direct Gibraltarian participation and described Mr Caruana’s approach as “serious and constructive.”

Pointing to issues such as the Spanish pensioners, the airport and telecommunications, Sr Pons said that more than just a will is needed.

“The issues are very complex but we must face them looking ahead to the future,” he said also arguing that many seemed to prefer to remain anchored in the past. In particular he argued the case for a presence or access for Spanish officials in the
day to day running of the airport.

He also appealed for politics to move on from 1969, though accepting that it did much damage.

“Gibraltarians should lift off that dark victims’ complex of needing redress for being the fruit of an unresolved dispute between two nation states.

The Spanish should accept that today Gibraltar is not Spanish (except the isthmus) and that perhaps it might be one day and that no accord will be possible if the Gibraltarians do not wish it.

The British should understand that we are in the 21st century, that Gibraltar is not some remote island in the ocean and that, for this reason, especially in relation to the military base, it cannot have an arrogant or colonial attitude,” he wrote.

But he also warned that this moment affords an historic opportunity which will not repeat itself easily if not taken up and that this moment demands “vision and leadership to defeat resistance and to tackle the difficult issues.”

Related Article:

04 August 2005 - Pons calls for a new future of “open doors” in cross-border relations

11 July 2005 - Tripartite talks move for an airport agreement by the end of 2005

10 July 2005 - Faro Tripartite Talks - Joint Statement

Border delays continue

Delays at the border intensified once again yesterday evening, with the queue for pedestrians crossing into Spain stretching halfway down the loop at 7pm.

Senior Spanish police officers who were in Gibraltar for the memorial service of the late Eddie Campello, editor of Vox, were among those forced to wait.

Vehicles driving into Spain had to wait up to two hours to get across.

The delays come as a result of continued industrial action by the Policia Nacional, which is locked in a dispute over pay.

Related Articles and Links:

21 August 2005 - PSOE MP to mediate as Frontier action set to continue

09 August 2005 - Work to rule by Policia Nacional creates bottleneck at frontier

08 August 2005 - Noisy frontier protest as car queues worsen

02 August 2005 - Go-Slow does not affect frontier flow

30 July 2005 - Spanish Police declare go-slow at Frontier

Policia Nacional

Spanish Police Trade Unions:

SUP - Sindicato Unificado de Policia
UFP - Union Federal Policia

‘Curry explosion' seals off casemates!

An abandoned parcel containing powdered cumin, the spice that gives ‘pinchitos’ their distinctive flavour, sparked a major security alert in Casemates at midday yesterday.

The parcel was left next to a public phone close to Burger King and directly opposite the Main Street entrance to the International Commercial Centre, arousing the suspicions of a police constable and passers by in the area.

As restaurants in Casemates prepared for the lunchtime rush, police officers moved in and cordoned off the entire square, ordering businesses to shut and members of the public to move away to a safe distance.

“Make sure everyone stays away from the windows,” a policeman told staff at the BHS store as he urged people away from the square.

At that time of the day Casemates should have been heaving with people, but within 20 minutes it was completely deserted save for a handful of police officers.

Bomb Disposal Equipment used by No 5131 (BD) Squadron
Just after 12.30pm, the RAF bomb disposal unit sent in a remotely controlled vehicle, known as ‘the wheelbarrow’, to assess the situation.

At 12.54pm, the bomb disposal team used the wheelbarrow to carry out a controlled explosion that disintegrated the package and left the pavement and the wall behind the phone covered in ‘pinchito’ spices.

As the yellow dust settled, a member of the RAF team walked in wearing a protective helmet and clothing. He took some photographs and declared the area safe shortly after.

“What’s happened here?” asked an English tourist as the wider cordons were lifted and policemen sealed the immediate area around the public phone.

“A curry explosion,” replied one of the officers in deadpan voice.

The incident was over in less than an hour and a half, but nonetheless caused significant disruption to restaurants and shops in the area at one of the busiest times of the day.

Senior police officers on the scene said there was no specific intelligence relating to the incident, adding that it appeared someone had simply used the public phone and inadvertently left the package behind.

But the same officers insisted that the precautions taken yesterday, including sealing the area off and calling in bomb disposal experts, were vital to ensure the safety of the public.

There were certainly few complaints from people in the area, who above all else seemed intrigued by what was going on and ready to accept that such measures are inevitable given the global threat of terrorism.

Most concerns centred on why, given what was happening in Casemates square, the Line Wall entrances to the ICC, including to the car park, stayed open throughout, with people allowed to access the building and remain inside if they wished.

Local man charged

Arson at Montagu Gardens

After intensive and extensive enquiries carried out by CID officers of the RG Police into the arson at Montagu Gardens last April 26, police last Friday charged Cain Borastero, 19, of 7 Palm Tree Lodge.

He was charged with one count of arson. Borastero appeared at the Magistrates Court yesterday and has been granted court bailed in the sum of £2,000 in his own recognizance until November 15.

As a result of the fire a total of 16 vehicles and the underground garage were extensively damaged to approximately £250,000, said police.

Related Article:

23 July 2005 - Montagu Gardens arson investigation continues

19 May 2005 - Montagu Gardens arson - Police arrest two suspects

27 April 2005 - Arson attack suspected in Westside One blaze

Yacht incident

A luxury yacht had to be towed in to Gibraltar yesterday after it ran out of fuel on the East Side of the Rock.

The authorities were alerted but the yacht was ultimately towed in by a locally-registered pleasure boat.

It had been heading to Gibraltar to re-fuel when the incident happened.

Former winner wants to revive event

Gib Song Festival

Joe Carseni, a Gibraltarian businessman living in New York, is planning to revive the Gibraltar Song Festival that was last held, albeit for a brief period, in the early 1990’s.

Mr Carseni, a former participant and winner of one of the earlier editions, wants others who share this objective to contact him with the idea of exploring it further and forming an organising committee.

To contact Joe Carseni, please write to him at this address: PO Box 225, Gibraltar, or phone him at 690 295 175.

Gibraltar Fair 2005 attracts hundreds

Acting Chief Minister Joe Holliday inaugurated the Gibraltar Fair on Saturday evening.

He visited the fairground and spoke to those organising the various attractions including the Family and Youth Pavilions.

Mr Holliday was joined by Principal Secretary of the Culture Ministry Albert Finalyson and other Ministry representatives.

Major paper on Human Evolution published

The prestigious international, peer-reviewed, journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE) has just published a major review on human evolution in a paper entitled Biogeography and Evolution of the genus Homo.

Professor Clive Finlayson - Director Heritage Division - Gibraltar Museum
The paper has been written by Professor Clive Finlayson, Director of the The Gibraltar Museum. The paper is highlighted within the journal and has made its front cover.

A spokesman for the Ministry for Heritage said:

“The debate about the origins of modern humans has traditionally focused on two contrasting views.

Multi-regional evolution proposes that present-day populations worldwide are the descendants of in situ evolution after an initial dispersal of Homo erectus from Africa during the Lower Pleistocene.

The alternative, Out-of-Africa 2, proposes that all present-day populations are descended from a recent common ancestor that lived in East Africa 150, 000 years ago, the population of which replaced all regional populations.

The weight of the evidence is now in favour of Out-of-Africa 2, and discussion is today dominated by the causes of the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa and the outcome of contact with other populations. Fresh approaches, from disciplines hitherto peripheral to the debate (e.g. evolutionary ecology), and new discoveries are challenging established views, in particular the prevalent idea that biologically superior modern humans were the cause of the demise of all other populations of Homo worldwide.

In his paper, Professor Finlayson argues that the genus Homo is not exceptional in the context of Quaternary geographical range dynamics.

Now the highest-cited journal in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology worldwide, Trends in Ecology & Evolution contains polished, concise and readable reviews, opinions and letters in all areas of ecology and evolutionary science. It serves as an invaluable source of information for researchers, lecturers, teachers, field workers and students.

Trends in Ecology & Evolution keeps these scientists informed of new developments and ideas across the full range of ecology and evolutionary biology - from the pure to the applied, and from molecular to global.

Now, more than ever before, is it necessary for life scientists to be aware of research from a wide range of disciplines, especially in the face of the gathering momentum of global environmental change and destruction.

More than any other journal, Trends in Ecology & Evolution is the major forum for coverage of all the important issues concerning organisms and their environments.

This latest publication therefore strengthens even further the position of the Gibraltar Museum as a leading centre of excellence in the field of human evolutionary ecology.”