Facing Jail over Illegal Cortijo

MOT Illegal Cortijo Facing Demoltion Las ZorrerasJose’s illegal cortijo in Motril has to go and if it doesn’t then he’s going to prison – bet that made you sit up.

Jose Ortega’s cortijo is in Las Zorreras is surrounded by dozens of other illegal constructions; some humble affairs and others mini palaces.

He always thought when he built it – a personal dream – the worst that could happen would be a bit of administrative tut-tutting, a fine to pay and the whole thing would end up with the cortijo being legalised and everybody living happily ever after.

But he was wrong.

He started to build his dream home in 2007 and just as he was finishing it, he received notification that the Town Hall had nobbled him… and the nightmare began for Jose and his wife Sol Elena.

Now he has received notification from the judge that he has to report to the nearest prison within ten days.

What had happened was Jose ha been caught up in a sweep carried out by the Town Hall that bagged 50 cortijo owners of the around 2,500 illegal constructions in the municipalities, so he is not alone. All 50 owners received the order to demolish their cortijos. But José believes that he has been singled out because he hasn’t witnessed anybody carrying out a demolition order.

He had been condemned in 2016 to a 1-year (suspended) prison sentence and a 12-month fine at six euros a day. He was also ordered to demolish the cortijo and put the land back to how it was before.

His lawyer, Ricardo Rojas, appealed against the sentence, which was rejected. He then requested a suspension of sentence, which was also rejected. Sr. Rojas has now requested a pardon for his client, handing in a document containing 1,200 signatures in José’s support. The pardon request argues that building an illegal cortijo isn’t a reason to be sent to prison over.

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Then in April this year the law court replied that the prison sentence would go ahead and furthermore the demolition would go ahead, too.

The judge considers that as the demolition has not taken place, the prison sentence should go ahead. Jose also has a previous conviction from a decade back, which turns the suspended sentence into a prison term. He gave José tend days to get his things in order and report to prison.

José doesn’t have the money to pay for a demolition and has asked for a bank loan for 8,000 euros, but the bank refused.

José just can’t believe what is happening to him and is holding out hope for a pardon before the ten days are up because he can’t get his head round going to jail.

(News: Motril, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)

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