About Us

Contact Us


2001 Archives

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters
World Travel
September Issue
October Issue
November Issue
December Issue
Feb 02 Issue
April 02 Issue
May 02 Issue
June02 Issue
July02 Issue
August 02 Issue
September 02
October 02

The Case of the Hit and Run Donkey (A true story)

James Skinner in Spain
The doneky ran away from the scene of the accident a double dip criminal...

The European Union boasts of being one of today’s leading economic and advanced areas of the world on a par with other monsters such as the USA and Japan. Its greedy expansionist program over the next few years will include such giants as Poland and Hungary boosting its assertiveness in the ever-growing arena of globalisation and competition. During the next century, who knows what the EU will look like, should others such as Russia decide to join the elite club encompassing this super human society.

There are however, a few ‘pockets’ of not-so-endowed communities, scattered around this Shangri-La of a continent with residents who haven’t a clue what the whole thing is about. They can hardly read or write let alone worry about all of the wonderful gobbledegook that the politicians are pumping out daily throughout the EU media. Such is the case of Victoria Cerqueiro, who lives in a little village called Vilaboa in northwest Spain.

She can’t read or write, lives in a dilapidated stone house and survives off the fruits of her small plots of land inherited from her forefathers. She doesn’t have any electricity, let alone a telephone or other succulent niceties of the twenty-first century. Her profession, as it could appear in the Yellow Pages is that of a farmer. Instead of a tractor, however, she owns or better said owned a donkey. A noble animal, sometimes obstinate and stubborn, at others just plain dumb. Nevertheless a useful and faithful pet often used as locomotion in many rural parts of Europe’s harvest industry. This was how Victoria’s ass, or so the judges concluded was classified when the damn animal decided to smash itself against Manuel Posteriza’s car on a lonely side road on the 26th of July of 1993!

When the case was eventually brought before the court, three years later, the judge ruled in favour of Manuel alleging that the ‘animal was out of (driver’s?) control and had invaded the wrong side of the road’. It also ran away from the scene of the accident in other words, a double dip criminal act. He ordered Victoria to pay out exactly 192.661 Pesetas ($1160) for sustained damages to Manuel’s car. Victoria had ignored the proceedings and although she had tried to nurse the poor animal’s wounds it sadly passed away a few weeks after the accident. Months went by and nothing happened. The odd certified notification emphasising payment would turn up at Victoria’s residence only to be ignored yet again whilst the poor woman continued with her routine dull existence like most other peasants in this forgotten corner of Europe. The nightmare started when Victoria was eventually handed an order of embargo on all her properties.

The court had allowed them to be evaluated at ‘officially listed’ prices and subsequently ordered them to be sold at auction. The money raised would eventually cover Manuel’s claim as per the originally mandated compensation. Nearly ten years had gone by and Victoria now found herself homeless and without a means of support for her daily survival. Not to worry. No different to a good Hollywood script, good would eventually win out over evil. The case hit the press and the whole story came to light.

To start with, when the accident happened, Victoria’s properties were still in the process of being subdivided amongst her next of kin as they formed part of an old inheritance. Although the court was unaware at the time, the ‘other’ inheritors were. In other words, they weren’t legally registered in her name. Secondly, the court evaluator ‘conveniently’ catalogued them as ‘rural’ land based on historical evaluation rather than residential and completely ignored the fact that they contained a two-story building – Victoria’s house. When the auction took place, there was, for some unknown reason, only one bidder who picked up the whole lot at roughly 10% of its true value. The new owner never even visited the place. Knowing all along about the state of affairs of the properties, twenty in all, he rushed over to the nearest land registration office to enter his purchase as ‘land under development’. Thanks to her neighbours and friends, a young pair of lawyers was approached who eventually decided to appeal against the court’s decision. In true Tom Cruise fashion, they took on the case. Spielberg would’ve loved the script just reading on how the plot began to thicken.

By this time, the injured party, Manuel Pastoriza could not believe the trouble that had been caused. ‘I received my indemnity two or three years ago, but I never imagined that this could have reached so far’, he said. Since then, he has sold his car and has refused to drive again. ‘This is real skulduggery on behalf of evaluators, auctioneers and judges allowing this sort of thing to happen. I would never have reported the accident had I known that the poor lady would lose everything’, he concluded. The young lawyers plodded on. Their first move was to present a lawsuit against the court evaluator as well as the auctioneer. For obvious reasons, it was thrown out. No judge is going to auto-blame himself! Once again the press came to the rescue. It hit the local headlines.
Second time round, Tommy’s legal beagles turned the wording around, as most lawyers would and managed to annul the auction until the whole mess could be cleared up. ‘The truth is that cases such as these raise the social alarm’, said the lawyer. ‘Just take a look outside the courtroom’. Victoria’s friends and neighbours, in true democratic style, banners and all were campaigning for justice. Whilst the case continues Victoria is home and carrying on with her mundane existence.

Despite the advances of the consumer world, despite the multitude of rulings and laws that are binding Europe’s fifteen into a supposedly tight and harmonious modern society, cases of extreme legal abuse take place, specially at the lower level of the humble human spectrum. In this particular case, who was at fault in the first place? The donkey that caused the accident? The plaintiff? Victoria, who couldn’t interpret the accusation and hoped that the funny postman bringing letters, would go away? The judge, whose naive interpretation of the law book overlooked the human suffering of the defendant? Or how about the wheeler-dealers behind the scenes such as the evaluator, auctioneer and buyer who were quick to sniff out the profit margins in ten seconds flat. Was this a genuine legal comedy of errors or a case of lack of human compassion and understanding? After all, how can one take a ruling on the unfortunate accident of a hit and run dumb animal without considering the aftermath that could and did turn into a real human tragedy?
© James Skinner. 2002.
November 17th 2002.

*James will keep us up to date on this case it it unfolds in er timely fashion.

'Books and Bookends' Cruising to Crete
James Skinner finally comes ashore

Santorini is paradisiacal - a gorgeous town

The Deep End
James Skinner - Honarary Consul

There she was, bruised, staring..

More Travel Journeys in Hacktreks

< Back to Index
< Reply to this Article

© Hackwriters 2002