Two Nerja mayors and six councillors past and present have been cited to appear in court in Torrox by the judge investigating alleged fraud and environmental offences. The enquiry is part of Operation Vastum which began in 2017 into municipalities of more than 15,000 residents which do not have sewage systems compliant with European directives.
José Alberto Armijo, Nerja’s Partido Popular mayor between 1995 and 2015, is expected to be the first to be questioned, followed by the present mayor Rosa Arrabal of the PSOE. As well as the other serving and former councillors, two representatives of Aguas de Narixa, which supplies the town’s drinking water, have also been ordered to appear.
The environmental allegations were highlighted on television in March when underwater pictures of the seabed off Nerja’s coast illustrated how the dumping of untreated sewage has had a devastating effect. Environmentalists claim the practice has destroyed flora and fauna, including half of a colony of protected molluscs.
The possibility of fraud was raised by the pressure group Ecologists in Action who say that, since 2011, regional legislation has allowed town halls to charge residents a fee for sanitation as part of each household’s annual IBI payment. Although the amount goes finally to the Junta de Andalucía, the ecologists say municipalities without the necessary infrastructure to purify waste water could be charging the fee illegally.