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Decade-Long Wait Ends as Trial Begins for Gardener Accused of Fatal Costa del Sol Forest Fire

December 31, 2023
Decade-Long Wait Ends as Trial Begins for Gardener Accused of Fatal Costa del Sol Forest Fire - mijas fire abi fullbrook1 e1354119043890 - Marbella News Crime -

Gardener Faces Jail Time for Alleged Role in 2012 Costa del Sol Forest Fire

A gardener, who has been accused of instigating a massive forest fire that ravaged the Costa del Sol in 2012, is potentially facing a prison sentence of seven-and-a-half years. The trial has finally commenced, over a decade after the devastating fire that resulted in two fatalities, injured four people, damaged or destroyed 347 properties, and burned over 8,500 hectares in Mijas, Marbella, Ojen, Monda, and Alhaurin el Grande.

Accused Denies Charges, Trial Underway

The accused, whose identity has not been officially disclosed by the Malaga court, refutes the allegations that he ignited prunings in the garden of a property in Barranco Blanco (Coin) and then left the fire unattended to return to his residence. He does, however, acknowledge his presence on the property on the day of the incident, performing maintenance tasks for the Belgian homeowner who was absent at the time. The trial is expected to continue until June.

Prosecution Seeks Jail Term, Accused Denies Wrongdoing

The Environmental Prosecutor’s Office is advocating for the prison sentence, accusing the man of recklessly starting a forest fire, two counts of reckless homicide, and one count of causing injury. In his defense statement, the accused refuted the prosecution’s claims, stating that he was cleaning the pool and watering plants on August 30, 2012, but did not start a bonfire.

Witnesses and Investigations Point to Accused

A Guardia Civil officer, who was part of the fire investigation, informed the court that at least three witnesses identified the estate where the accused was working as the origin of the fire. The officer also expressed astonishment at a report commissioned by Alhaurin el Grande Town Hall that contradicted the official investigations. Interestingly, the accused is an employee of the town hall and a relative of the mayor.

Fire Damage and Costs Estimated at €30 Million

The financial impact of the fire, including damage and firefighting expenses, is estimated to be nearly €30 million. The Belgian homeowner could also potentially be held liable. The aftermath of the fire continues to be felt, with wildfires destroying more than 6,100 hectares of land in Spain’s Malaga in 2022 and expats still awaiting compensation two years after the horrific Mijas fire. The reforestation of Costa del Sol is also expected to be delayed by a year.

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