Wednesday, 28 June 2023, 09:18
Malaga’s environmental prosecutor's office has lodged an appeal against the acquittal of the mayor of Nerja, José Alberto Armijo (PP), in the case of the Río de la Miel landfill site, which was restored last year by the Junta de Andalucía, at a cost of 1.6 million euros, following 18 years of illegal dumping of construction and other waste in the protected area.
In April this year, Armijo was acquitted of any crime in the case, as were six construction company owners who had also been implicated. The public prosecutor had already withdrawn the accusation against urban planning councillor Nieves Atencia before the ruling.
The Public Prosecutor's Office has requested that the ruling be overturned and that Armijo, who was re-elected in last month’s local elections with an absolute majority, be sentenced to two years' imprisonment and 18 months' disqualification from public employment or office for an alleged crime against the environment and natural resources.
Public prosecutor Fernando Benítez has lodged the appeal, to which SUR has had access, on four grounds. Firstly, the public prosecutor's Office understands that the ruling "contains an infringement of the law". Secondly, it sees a "breach of the procedural rules governing the practice and assessment of expert evidence and a violation of the right to effective judicial protection".
The third plea is an "error in the assessment of the evidence due to the lack of assessment of essential documents for the resolution of the case […] which the appealed decision does not even mention". The ground is a "violation of the right to effective judicial protection in its aspect of the fundamental right to a trial with all the guarantees due to the absence or insufficiency of motivation and error in the assessment of the expert evidence practiced in the plenary".
The prosecutor supports the acquittal of the construction business owners who also faced sentences and has only lodged the appeal against the mayor, who is also running for a seat in Spain’s senate to represent Malaga province in the general elections on 23 July.
The Río de la Miel landfill, located in a former quarry on the outskirts of Nerja in the Sierras Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama protected area, operated for 18 years, between 1998 and 2016. In that time 800,000 cubic metres of construction waste and organic matter were dumped.
An investigation was opened up and a trial began in October 2022, with Armijo, Atencia and the six business people accused of crimes against the environment. However, the judge leading the trial declared that no crime had been found to have been committed by any of the accused.
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