A judge investigating the summer forest fires in Horta de Sant Joan, in southern Catalunya, believes that they were started intentionally (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). Two men, aged 26 and 27, are currently in custody accused of causing the fire, which caused the death of five firemen and serious injury to a sixth. However, an initial investigation into the events of late July 2009 placed the blame for the fire on a bolt of lightning. At the time, both the Catalan interior minister, Joan Saura, and the environment minister, Francesc Balthazar, agreed with this finding, with the former announcing it in Parliament a week after the firemen died. The judge says that there is evidence of criminal action in the event, with significant contradictions in the declarations made by the two men arrested last week, who had previously taken part in campaigns against forest fires.
A team of surgeons at Barcelona's Hospital Clinic has carried out Spain's first sex change on a minor (article in Castilian, El Periodico). The 16-year-old underwent the procedure last week after taking hormones for two years in preparation for the surgery by a private team of doctors employed by the family of the boy—sources "close to the hospital" said that the operation had been successful. According to Spanish law, the permission of a judge was necessary for the procedure to take place because of the youth's age; this authorisation was given in November 2009. The only other known surgery of this type has been carried out in Argentina.
The NGO Moviment Contra la Intolerància has said that it could take legal action against the council of the central Catalan town of Vic if it continues to refuse to let illegal immigrants register on the town's official census (article in Catalan, Avui). The mayor of Vic, Josep Maria d'Abadal, has defended the decision of the local ajuntament to refuse to allow some people "without papers" to empadronar, which would give them access to free medical services, amongst other advantages. The president of Moviment, Esteban Ibarra, said that the move was against Spanish law and denied those involved their fundamental human rights. Ibarra said that if the Spanish government didn't take action against the Vic ajuntament, then Moviment would bring a case against it for crimes of "hate and discrimination".
Also in the news: Zapatero faces up to conservative critics of his plans for Europe (La Vanguardia); Following days of snow, warmer temperatures and rain forecast for Catalunya (El Periodico); Spanish vice-president says no agreement ever made to transfer control of Barcelona airport to Generalitat (Avui)