May 3, 2020 | Ibiza Blog | 0 comments

Top 10 Ibiza Scandals

Ibiza Blog | 0 comments

Written by Dan Kirwan

Ibiza has always loved drama, gossip and intruige. Its a romantic island full of dreamers, pirates, black sheep and missfits all of mixed blood and culture. Both the Cartagians and Romans viewed Ebusus as a portal to the next life, the fields of Elysium that swept down to Atlantis. The islands potent energy drives those of a certain disposition to destruction – a place that tempts extremes. In this Top 10 selection, published in two parts, we look back at  famous incidents that stirred the blood of social and moral trangression. 

The Algerian Defector 

At dawn on Sunday June 7, 1998, Algerian Army Helicopter Pilot, Lieutenant Alili Messaoud, fled the bloddy Algerian civil war in a Mi-8 Military Transport Helicopter.

The large aircraft required three crew members to co-pilot, but Alili managed to fly it solo from Algerias Blida Air Force Base, first landing in Formentera before re-routing to Ibiza Airport where he promptly requested political asylum.

From a wealthy family, his decision to defect at the age of 29 was a big surprise. Alili was a lieutenant in the Algerian army about to be promoted to Captain of his unit before he jumped into the void and fled his homeland, citing human rights violations and crimes against humanity by the Algerian government.

Considered a remarkable feat of piloting skill, Alli flew the 751 mile journey “sucide mission” low and under the radar so as to conceal his escape.

Considered a remarkable feat of piloting skill, Alli flew the 751 mile “sucide mission” low and under the radar so as to conceal his escape.

His request for political asylum in Ibiza was denied, but finding an Ibiza solution to an Ibiza problem, he was granted an official residency document. Island authorties promptly returned the Helicopter to the Algerian Army undamaged and Alli to this day, continues to enjoy a life of freedom. A book was published that chronicled his daring escape.

Molchanova Dissapearance

In the summer of 2015, World Free Diving Champion, Natalia Molchanova, disapeared off the cost of Formentera while diving near the port of La Savina. The World record holder failed to surface from the 65 foot dive and after a fruitless two week search of the surrounding area by the Guardia Civil, she was persumed dead after 6 months missing.  The dissapearance of Natalia created much speculation due to her lifelong diving experience and her connections to big business in Russia.

The Death Of Christa Päffgen

Nico was found dead on the side of a quiet road in Ibiza following a mysterious bicycle accident in 1988. The stunning blonde model, was a friend of Bob Dylan and worked with Rolling Stone’s guitarist Brian Jones. Part of the Ibiza hippy scene , Nico was introduced to The Velvet Underground by its enigmatic manager, Andy Warhol. They released the iconic The Velvet Underground and Nico album in 1967, which is ranked #13 in the Rolling Stone magazine’s, 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. As there was no witness to the accident, the case of her death remains unsolved.

The Ibiza Motorway Scandal

For those of a certain generation, the most notable change to the islands landscape was back in 2006, when a controversial development finally received the green light to proceed. That multi million euro investment project was the building of two new motorways to replace the dangerous  roads that linked Ibiza town to San Antonio and the Airport. The conservative environmentalists and many locals came out in force to protest against the globalization of the island. For two months protesters did their best to disrupt the work by chaining themselves to railings, occupying property and standing in front of bulldozers. The Guardia Civil were drafted in to protect the development, which many perceived was the wish of the Matutes Group, especially the road to the Airport which the anti-motorway lobby claimed was built to service a proposed golf course and shopping center on Matutes land next to the airport. It was a nasty affair at the time, with thousands of homes destroyed to make way for progress.

The Hotel Augusta 

This story involved a powerful business man, a towering hotel, a WW2 General, a public march and 300 kg of  TNT. The year was 1970 and the Hotels name was the Hotel Augusta. It was built, over 16 floors high, right next to Ibiza Airport by the patriarch of the Island’s most powerful family, Don Abel Pedro Matutes. 

The Hotel underwent construction and was unveiled as a modern day work of art, which would be testament to the Islands growing stature in Spain. It was a proud moment for Don Pedro Matutes when he officially opened the Hotel in 1971, but little did he know, that in less than a year, he would be forced to demolish his pride and joy with explosive TNT.

The pilots association reported the Hotel to the Spanish National Air Authority as a dangerous obstruction so Madrid sent General Julio Salvador, a pilot himself, to investigate first hand the complaint. He captained a flight into the Airport and straight away labelled the Hotel a hazard and ordered that it be demolished. Mr Matutes would not agree to its demolition, citing political interference and a tense stand-off ensued. In retaliation, Madrid closed Ibiza Airport to all night time traffic. The effect of this closure of Ibiza Airport to the livelihoods of the many hotels and businesses on the Island, was immediate and costly. The people took to the streets and demanded the offending building be demolished.

 “The Hotel was so tall and imposing that pilots flying into Ibiza Airport considered it a dangerous hazard directly in their landing flightpath”

 In February 1971, Mr Matutes, under big pressure from the Ibicencos and Madrid, relented and had to watch, as his brand new Hotel was dynamited to rubble. He resigned as Mayor of Ibiza rumoured to be upset that the islanders did not support his vision for a more modern Ibiza.

To this day, Ibiza still has no Airport Hotel. The Augusta was its first and its last and its highly unlikely that any will ever exist there.  In 1996, Mr Matutes rose to promenence in Spanish politics as he was appointed Minister of Foreign Afairs, the first Ibicenco to hold a ministry in Madrid. 

Join us on Tuesday as we publish the second part of the blog taking a look at five more Ibiza affairs.


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