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Established in Palma of Majorca in 1962

Thursday 13 June, 2013 Edition #4059

11 Britons in court on drug charges

Palma.—Eleven of a total 15 people charged, three of them women, faced prosecution demands for jail sentences ranging from seven to nine years when they went on trial in Palma yesterday, accused of smuggling drugs into Ibiza and distributing them on the island. An Irish woman and a man from the Slovakian Republic also, faced similar demands taking the total number of suspects who should have been in the dock to 15. The Britons, all of them from Merseyside, and the other two accused were arrested in 2009 allegedly trafficking ecstasy, ketamine, cocaine and crack. The prosecutor asked for a nine year prison sentence for Shacher Cohen, the alleged UK based gang leader. The others faced demands for jail sentences of between seven and eight years.

As well as Cohen, the others from Merseyside have been named as Christopher Reisi Alexander, Alexandra Nicklin, Mitch Justin White, Ratan Keith Turner, Steven James Southgate, Aaron Reece Drozario, Dale Matthew Palmer, Ross Bonter, Brian Floyd Jones, Timothy Jones Gates, Zoe Alexander and Lauren Pamela McDaid. Also in the dock was Lena Butcher, from Ireland, and Michal Ondrusek, from the Slovakian Republic. In the end Cohen and Mitch Justin White, considered to be the ring leaders, were handed sentences of four-and-a-half years while the others, the alleged dealers, accepted sentences of two to three years.

Now the police are hunting the four who failed to show up in court.

Parliament officially backs Year of Fray Juniper Serra

Palma.—Balearic MPs voted unanimously in favour of 2013, being officially declared the ‘Year of Fray Juniper Serra' in honour of the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Majorcan Franciscan friar, who founded the first nine of 21 Spanish missions in California from San Diego to San Francisco.

Celebration to mark the anniversary began at the start of the year, most of them being organised by the former U.S. Consular Agent to the Balearics, Tummy Bestard, who is the President of the Fray Juniper Foundation.

But, a host of events are going to continue throughout the year, in the run up to the 300th anniversary of his birth in Petra, on November 24.
Juniper Serra is considered to have been the founder of California and is the only foreigner to have been honoured with a statue on Capitol Hill. His missions remain open today.

French air traffic controllers' strike hits Balearic flights

Palma.—A number of in and outbound flights were cancelled and delayed at Palma airport yesterday because of a strike by French air traffic cpntrollers.

French air-traffic controllers began a three-day strike to protest against EU plans to create a single European airspace.
The controllers said the Single European Sky (SES) project will affect public safety and their working conditions.
Walk-outs are expected to spread across Europe today which will affect international flight in and out of the Balearics even more. “A direct attack” The European Commission, which drafts EU laws, estimates that inefficiencies in the way Europe's air traffic is managed add 42km (26 miles) to the average flight.

It wants to centralise air-traffic controls, rather than leave each member state, to monitor its own skies.
The commission says this could triple the region's airspace capacity, cut costs and reduce delays.
Under the plan, the many national air traffic control systems would be merged into nine Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), with a new European network manager being given authority, for route planning.

But France's main controllers' union, the USAC-CGT, says the plans are “a direct attack on the public service nature of this sector” and a step towards privatisation.

It says the changes constitute a “violation of national sovereignty” and will have an negative impact on working conditions.
In April, the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF), which is backing the action, criticised what it said was a “never ending process of liberalisation, deregulation and cost cutting” in the air traffic management industry.

Highest award for life saving dog who found Majorca car bomb

Madrid/Palma.—During the fourth International Conference of Police and Military Dog Handlers being held in Móstoles, Madrid yesterday, ‘Ajax', the dog was awarded the highest bravery award possible for his work in saving lives, as the UK PDSA awarded him the canine equivalent to the George Cross.

The Gold Medal of the PDSA is considered the highest honour that can be delivered to an animal for an act of outstanding courage or exceptional dedication to duty and social commitment.

Said to be the equivalent of the George Cross, because that is the highest honour that can be given in the Commonwealth to a civilian for acts of bravery.

Ajax, is the first Spanish dog in history to receive the award and only the second out of the UK, which has only been given to 21 dogs in total.
On the 29th of July, 2009, Ajax, accompanied by his Sergeant Juan Carlos Alabarces, arrived here in Majorca as part of a Royal detail to search the island before the arrival of the King of Spain.

The next day, in Palmanova, a car bomb exploded under a Guardia Civil vehicle, killing two young officers Diego Salvá Lezaun and Carlos Sáenz de Tejada García, at the hands of terrorist group ETA.

Ajax, went to the scene and successfully located another bomb under another patrol car.
As a result of this find, the area was cleared and a controlled explosion was carried out, which dispersed shrapnel over a 100 metre radius.
Later investigations resulted in the findings that the bomb had a motion sensor and would have caused a considerable amount of damage and certain death to anybody in the area.

There is no doubt that the actions of this dog, and his handler, saved the lives of countless people, and so yesterday morning, his bravery was recognised for the entire world to see.

Beware of bogus gas inspectors targeting pensioners in Calvia

Palma.—A 74-year-old British pensioner living in Son Ferrer has been conned and robbed of 421 euros by two men posing as Repsol inspectors.
Carol Elizabeth Miller, from Calvia, received a call from two men claiming to be from Repsol last Friday saying she was “due an alteration in her service because of a new gas law” and was told they had to do it straight away or she could lose the allocated time.

Afraid she could lose her gas supply, since she is the only one in her block of flats that receives bottled gas, as opposed to her neighbours that have all changed to piped gas, she was left with no choice but to agree.

The criminals, showed up dressed in Repsol uniforms and carrying fake badges but their urgency on finishing the job led Carol to lower her guard and let them in without checking their credentials properly.

She was then presented with the bill but when she protested the men just grabbed all the money she had on her, 421 euros in total, a big chunk of her pension.

Patricia McGregor, friend and carer of the victim said this was a complete scam by an organised gang and urged people to take extra precautions from now on. “Carol was in shock. She felt like a fool because she is usually very careful but she lives alone and she was afraid of making a big issue with Repsol and lose her home deliveries. “She was bullied from the word go. They simply took her money in a very aggressive way and the worst part is that she relies completely on her pension. “We are very surprised on how much information they knew, how they found out where she lived, what services she relied on. It is all very strange how they got hold of that information. And of course, we called Repsol afterwards and it transpired that she was not due for an inspection. It was all a scam.”

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