Eurofile: Water battle boils up in Spain

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The Independent Online
IN THE relentless heat of the Spanish summer, a water war has erupted between regions, setting the central Castilla la Mancha region against the drought-stricken coastal provinces of Murcia, Valencia and Andalucia. The crisis over endemic water shortages in vast areas of the country has triggered fears that local squabbling could turn into more serious conflict.

Jose Bono, the regional Prime Minister of Castilla la Mancha, and a close friend of the Prime Minister, Felipe Gonzalez, said that Madrid was not within its rights to order water to be pumped to drought-stricken provinces and that his region would resist the order.

THE bank accounts of Greece's former conservative prime minister, Constantine Mitsotakis, have been ordered opened by the Athens appeals court in connection with an investigation into allegations that he took bribes while in office. Parliament voted last May to investigate allegations that Mr Mitsotakis took a pounds 14.7m bribe during the sale of the state-owned AGET Heracles cement company in 1992. He has denied any wrongdoing in the pounds 147m sale to Italy's Calcestruzzi and the state-run Greek National Bank. The parliament, which is under Socialist control, has already ordered Mr Mitsotakis to stand trial on charges of illegal wiretapping between 1988 and 1991. A committee investigating the cement company sale will report to parliament next month and recommend whether a vote should be taken on lifting Mr Mitsotakis' immunity from criminal prosecution in the AGET case.

THE FRENCH minister, Alain Carignon, who resigned last week, was charged yesterday with conspiracy and receiving illegal funds. Mr Carignon, 45, quit his post as Communications Minister to deflect embarrassment from the Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur. Mr Carignon was the first minister to resign under a cloud from France's right-wing government and as the corruption case unfolds it could tarnish Mr Balladur's image, affecting his frontrunner status in the race to succeed President Francois Mitterrand next May. A rising star of the right, Mr Carignon came under suspicion for financial impropriety over payments to his 1986 mayoral campaign in Grenoble.

JUST as Germany sought to honour the memory of those behind the failed, but heroic, bomb plot against Hitler on 20 July 1944, a group of neo- Nazi skinheads undid all the good work by rampaging through the memorial at the former Buchenwald concentration camp. They even threatened to burn one of the women working there. After racing through the camp chanting 'Sieg Heil]', throwing stones and raising their arms in the banned Hitler salute, all 22 members of the gang were detained by police. Only one was still under arrest yesterday.

TO THE exasperation of Greece's European Union partners, a Greek court yesterday acquitted a terrorist suspect, George Balafas, on 20 charges ranging from murder and possession of arms to theft.

Greece's domestic terrorist organisations - November 17 and the Anti-State Struggle - seem all but immune to prosecution despite a campaign of murder dating back to 1973. Recently they have targeted European businesses and cultural institutes as well as a tourist hotel in Athens. Mr Balafas was declared innocent after a six-month trial in which he had been charged with the murders of a prosecutor and five policemen in three separate incidents in 1985, and the killing of an Athens psychiatrist in 1990.