Severe penalty for man who started forest fire

The Supreme Court has confirmed a sentence of eight years in prison for a man who caused a devastating fire near Ojén.

On July 21st 2001, a fire in the area known as Sierra Parda caused extensive damage around Ojén, incinerating some 270 hectares of prime land. Within two days of the blaze, the police arrested the alleged culprit, initials JMG, who was then tried and found guilty. The sentence handed out by the court was eight years in prison and a fine of €6 per day for ten months.

An appeal was launched and now, seven years later, the Supreme Court of Andalucía has upheld the verdict of the lower court. In addition, the Supreme Court states that JMG must compensate any injured parties as a result of the fire, pay all the costs involved in extinguishing the blaze as well as making compensation payments to the Junta de Andalucía and the Ministry of Environment.

JMG has ten days in which to present himself at Alhaurín de la Torre prison, failure to do so will result in the issue of a ‘search and capture’ order.

At his original trial, 46 year old JMG denied any involvement in the fire. However, he is also awaiting trial in relation to a similar fire in the same area two years earlier.

The severity of the sentence is an indication of the seriousness with which the authorities view the starting of forest fires, either intentionally or through negligence, with no mitigating circumstances being taken into consideration when considering the verdict.

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