Wednesday, 26 October 2022, 13:30
Spain’s Supreme Court has put an end to the judicial soap opera between Rincón de la Victoria town hall and the family that owns the Cueva del Tesoro, over the cost of the expropriation of the cave, which is an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC).
The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal lodged by the town hall against a previous ruling of the Andalusian High Court of Justice (TSJA) and has valued the cave at 4,969,650 euros, the same amount that a committee of experts appointed with the agreement of both parties set it at in 2016.
"It is easy to see that the agreement contains sufficient information to see the reasons on which the committee based its valuation of the property. Therefore, it cannot be validly argued that the reasoning expressed in the agreement is non-existent or scant; on the contrary, the [town hall] has had sufficient information to be able to challenge the valuation agreement adopted by the Committee of Experts", stated the High Court in its judgement, to which SUR has had access.
The town hall lodged this appeal following its disagreement with the value set by the committee of experts, endorsed by the previous ruling of the TSJA following an initial court ruling. The council provided several technical and legal reports that put the value at around one million euros. When the proceedings began more than a decade ago the municipal valuation was 91,000 euros.
Manuel Laza, one of the owners of the cave, told SUR that he was "pleased" with the court ruling. "It could have been avoided, I already said that it should not have come to this, that a foundation should be set up, managed by the town hall, in which the family who own it would be involved," said Laza.
Laza went on to say, "We understand that we have the right to claim the 4.9 million and the interest since 2016, which adds up to another 1,600,000 euros, which could be a total of 6.6 million.” In June 2021, the town hall and the family signed a contract to extend the lease that began in 1991 for a period of two years, extendable for a third, at a rate of 24,000 euros per year.
"In principle it could be respected, but there is a clause that stipulated that it would be maintained until the Supreme Court ruling," said Laza, for whom Rincón de la Victoria town hall "has acted in a rash manner, trying to circumvent the law, since we accepted the valuation set by the committee of experts agreed by the two parties," Laza said.
Municipal sources have replied to this newspaper saying that the town hall "is going to abide by the ruling, against which there is no room for appeal". They also pointed out that they will "maintain negotiations" with the Laza family to complete the payment of the amount set by the courts. They argue that the town hall has been "farsighted" and has already included this figure in its "management fund" offered by the central government for councils to pay final court rulings.
The town hall also pointed out that in last year's extension agreement an amount was stipulated to start paying the cost of the expropriation on a monthly basis, in accordance with the initial valuation of 91,000 euros, at a rate of 30,000 euros per year. "The cave is going to remain open," concluded the town hall sources.
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