Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spanish justice

Losing your home because you have failed to make the mortgage payments is one thing but to lose it because of a corrupt mayor is something else.

In 2005, two couples bought their dream homes in Cantoria, southern Spain for £140,000. In 2012 a court found the mayor, who had sanctioned the building,  guilty of falsifying documents and sentenced him to two years in prison, deferred because it was his first offence. He and the developer were ordered to compensate the owners but of course by this stage they were declared bankrupt.

An expensive ten year appeal eventually came to nothing even though there was widespread support from the campaign group AUAN along with a dozen local mayors. The Junta de Andalucia decided that the houses had to be bulldozed and they were.

There are an estimated 300,000 illegally built houses in southern Spain including 5,000 in the Almanzora valley  where this one was situated. So this is a situation that could well be repeated over and over again.

If the houses had a legal license in the first place which was later revoked, then the state would have paid compensation but these couples, like many others, had been duped by the mayor. He and the developers had not sought approval from the region but rather produced false documents to show that this had been granted.

We all understand that it is not right to build on protected land but in this case the guilty have got away scot free whilst the victims have lost their homes. They are not the first and will not be the last to suffer from the harsh decisions made by the region.

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