The News agency Europa Press has revealed that a court in Almeria, Andalusia, Spain has ordered the demolition of 17 houses in Media Legua in the town of Cantoria.
In the court judgement, to which Europa Press had access, the judge rejected the State Prosecutors request to compensate third party purchasers in good faith because there was “insufficient evidence of their existence”, despite the fact that the British owners had purchased the homes through a locally operating building company that had attracted their interest mainly through UK based advertising campaigns. The Judge admitted that “it is possible that such buyers existed” but considered their existence “was not proven”.
The builder of the homes has been sentenced to 14 months in prison and a fine of €12 a day during 18 months. Sentences under 24 months are usually commuted to a suspended sentence for the first offense. Judge Maria Soledad Balaguer left a legal option open for those involved to pursue a private legal case for compensation against the townhall of Cantoria or the builder. Judge Maria also said it was “scandalous” that 17 homes could be built near a large town without coming to the attention of the authorities and severely criticised the regulatory oversight of the town of Cantoria.
Local illegal home owners pressure group AUAN confirmed that the third party purchasers exist and are in the main British citizens and they “are very concerned that no steps appear to have been taken to inform them of their involvement in this case so that they could exercise their right to defend their interests. We can only hope that they can appeal this judgement or seek damages in some realistic way” said Maura Hillen. She added:
“There is something very wrong with a system of justice which allows those who have committed no crime to bear the greatest punishment for the actions of others. The government of Spain needs to review this aspect of its Criminal Code as a matter of urgency, in our view.”
Two properties belonging to British citizens were demolished in the hamlet of Arroyo Albanchez, also in Cantoria, in October 2013 and a further two were demolished in the same location in November of this year (pictured, above). No compensation has been paid to date to their British owners as the person liable has been declared bankrupt. The court judgement in this case was issued in June 2013.
The property of Helen and Len Prior was demolished in Vera, Almeria in 2008. They also have yet to be compensated for the loss of their home and continue to battle for justice in the courts.
Of the 16 properties demolished in the province of Almeria since 2008, according to government sources, 5 belonged to British citizens. British citizens represent some 3.27% of the population of Almeria according to INE, the Spanish Institute of Statistics.