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By On November 07, 2018

Grenade-shaped belt buckle sparks security scare at Spanish train stations

A woman carrying a grenade-shaped belt buckle on a train from Barcelona to Madrid caused a security lockdown and forced a station to be partly evacuated as well as railway delays.

Police in Barcelona said they were advised by security personnel in the city's main Sants station that "they had seen by scan an object that could be an explosive artefact," a spokesman said.

Most Spanish stations require passengers boarding trains to put their luggage through scanners.

A photo of the luggage scan posted on the Twitter feed of Catalonia's Mossos police force showed what looked clearly like a grenade.

Police subsequently evacuated two high-speed trains at the Barcelona station but did not find anything, the spokesman said.

"Then we saw that this person could be in a train going to Madrid. We warned national police," he added .

In the Spanish capital, police said they created a security zone on part of a platform at Atocha station, which was the scene of one of Europe's worst terror attacks in 2004 when 191 people were killed in explosions on commuter trains.

When the train arrived, they checked the luggage and found that the grenade-like object was actually a "belt buckle," a police spokeswoman said.

It is unclear why security personnel in Barcelona let the passenger get onto the train if they were worried about the potential grenade.

Adif, Spain's state company that manages stations and rail infrastructure, said they were looking into the incident.

Source: Google News Spain | Netizen 24 Spain

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By On November 07, 2018

Spain court says customers must pay mortgage tax

Spain's Supreme Court has ruled that customers, and not banks, have to pay for a mortgage-related tax, a decision that potentially saves Spanish lenders billions of euros in compensation.

Under a previous ruling in October, the court determined that banks had to pay the tax, representing a change in past legal doctrine. Until then, banks' clients had paid the tax.

The court met to make a firm decision and on late Tuesday, in a 15-to-13 vote, decided customers should continue paying.

Spanish bank shares had fallen sharply following the October ruling, as the companies would have potentially faced significant compensation payments were the decision to become retroactive.

Spain's budget minister said the estimated cost of the ruling, assuming four years of retroactivity, could have amounted to 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion). Regional authorities would have had to pay clients, and then claim the money from banks.

Source: Google News Spain | Netizen 24 Spain

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By On November 06, 2018

Spain seeks contingency plans with UK tour operators over fears of no-deal Brexit

Spain’s tourism minister has met with UK tour operators to discuss contingency plans to ensure millions of British tourists can still visit her country in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Reyes Maroto is holding talks this week with the heads of some of Britain’s biggest travel companies, including Thomas Cook, to draw up proposals in case the UK crashes out of the EU with no withdrawal agreement in place.

About 18 million British tourists travel to Spain each year, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all visitors.

“British tourists need to know that Spain next year will still be an attractive destination,” said Ms Maroto, minister for trade, industry and tourism.

“We are outlining a list of measures, the most important of which are to have laws and regulations in place that will allow us to respond quickly to any problems that can come up with the movement of goods and people at the border.”

International tourism accounts for about 11 per cent of Spain’s €1 trillion (£870bn) economy and the sector is the country’s biggest employer. More people travel to Spain from the UK than from any other nation.

Ms Maroto said: “For our government, Brexit is a top priority and the commitment we have to Spanish companies and Spanish nationals in the UK, as well as with Britons in Spain, is to ensure that we will have a solution for any problems that might crop [up].

“We want to be optimistic, but we are at a point at which we all have to keep up the pressure on the negotiators to resolve the few issues that are still pending.”

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The EU’s chief negotiator warned on Tuesday that an agreement with Britain over the Irish border â€" the biggest withdrawal issues yet to be resolved â€" was not close.

Michel Barnier said there was still a real point of divergence over the problem, after Theresa May called for a review mechanism to be attached to the EU’s planned backstop that would guarantee no hard border.

Delays in resolving the Northern Ireland border issue also mean negotiators have not worked out even an outline of a trade deal either.

Additional reporting by agencies

Source: Google News Spain | Netizen 24 Spain