The Prosecutor's Office warns of the destruction and looting of heritage in Tarragona

The Minerva Tower, the castle of Els Montgons or the Abadia del Codony. These are three examples that serve the Tarragona Public Prosecutor's Office to shout to the heavens for the destruction and looting of historical heritage. This follows from the 2022 Report, in which the Environment and Urban Planning section is very forceful, positions itself against this type of practice and asks to be able to intervene through precautionary measures.

"Unfortunately, on many occasions, the greatest attacks against historical heritage and land use planning have been announced and criminally nothing can be done until the crime has been consummated," explains the Prosecutor's Office, which adds: "There should be a mandatory intervention of the prosecutor in the administrative phase if there is one; and, in any case, the possibility of provisionally paralyzing some works that reveal a clear appearance of crime.

"Very serious damage"

In the field of historical heritage, the Prosecutor's Office indicates that "the problem may come from the municipal corporations", since "the destruction or very serious damage to historical assets is preceded by a propaganda campaign about the supposed economic benefits for the environment and for the entire municipality that the new constructions or facilities will provide.

The Prosecutor's Office recognizes a situation of helplessness and regrets that "once the heritage asset has been razed, there is no solution." That is why he claims to act: "It is dramatic that the prosecutor must contemplate the announcement and execution of the destruction of the property, without the capacity to act, until its recovery is already impossible."

The memory reviews several examples. Perhaps the best known and media is the Tower of Minerva. «In July 2021, on the occasion of facilitating the observation of the state of the Roman wall of Tarragona, an asset of national cultural interest, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, a specialized company was commissioned to place a scaffolding».

The Prosecutor is also very critical of construction crimes against the territory

From there, "the workers of that company fixed the scaffolding to the wall with 12 screws for which they made two holes, some of them even in one of the most important elements of the entire monument, the Minerva frieze, first relief Roman sculpture of the world outside the Italian peninsula». The Prosecutor concludes that “what precisely it was intended to protect was damaged.”

The complaint of this judicial body does not stop there. The other point on which he focuses is Els Montgons, a medieval town that is a Cultural Asset of National Interest (BCIN), close to Polígon Riu Clar. In 2021 there was initiation and subsequent complaint by the prosecutor. “This is an absolute permanent disregard for an area steeped in history, in which an asset of national interest, such as the castle, and others of local interest, such as the medieval town and church, have practically disappeared due to the weeds and plundering, without anything being done to prevent it.

Medieval remains such as castles and towns have been grazed by weeds and plunder

The Prosecutor warns: "Unfortunately the province has other similar cases in respect of which the Prosecutor's Office will act."

Another heritage site is the Abadia del Codony, another cultural asset of local interest, in this case in Perafort. The Report relates that "the few remains of the medieval building were destroyed by leveling and clearing the land by unskilled workers on the orders of a French citizen who had acquired the private estate where they were located."

without building permit

The Prosecutor emphasizes a whole set of irregularities: no building permit had been requested, it was not delimited in the deed of sale "nor in another place was there any reference to the cultural character of the property, which for many years had been being shredded by roots and branches of trees and undergrowth that had been born inside.

Thus, all this has led to the same Prosecutor's Office investigating "the possible responsibility not only of those who ordered the cleaning and raiding of the land, but also of the municipal authorities who had not established any protection measures, not even signaling."

The investigation recalls an older precedent, "practically the same as that of another destruction, that of the chapel of San Isidro de Riu Clar in the year 2000, which concluded in an acquittal against individuals precisely because of the situation of abandonment by the administration that made it impossible to know that it was a cultural asset.

There is another open front on which the Prosecutor's Office focuses in its recently published balance for 2021: the field of land use planning: "There are known cases of builders who illegally build a large number of homes in remote places very quickly. of the urban centers.

against the territory

The Prosecutor adds that "by the time administrative action is to be taken, there are already hundreds of off-plan purchasers who have mortgaged to the limit of their economic possibilities." Therefore, the social cost of demolishing these homes that cannot be compensated by the developer or builder "is very high."

And he concludes: “If it is done, the fact that they are convicted of fraud, a crime against the planning of the territory and the raising of assets in their case does not compensate the injured parties. If urban prevarication has been committed in collusion with those, it is even more difficult. It should be possible to order the stoppage and return or consignment of payments with all speed as a criminal precautionary measure from the first moment the works are detected.

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