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ETA member Gaddafi is acquitted of murder by applying the recent doctrine of the Strasbourg Court.

Latest NewsETA member Gaddafi is acquitted of murder by applying the recent doctrine of the Strasbourg Court.

ETA member Juan Carlos Iglesias Chuzas, aka “Gaddafi”, during his March 24 trial for the murder of a civil guard, in which he was acquitted.Emilio Naranjo (EFE)

The National High Court acquitted former ETA leader Juan Carlos Iglesias Chuzas, aka Gaddafi, of the 1991 murder in Bilbao, applying a recent verdict from the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) that denied the legal validity of a statement from prisoners held incommunicado detention, without the presence of a lawyer of his choice, when this restriction has not been sufficiently motivated. This judgment, which is subject to appeal, is the second acquittal of a member of a terrorist organization in recent months, following the application of this doctrine by the Strasbourg Court. Another acquittal comes from ETA member Gorka Palacios for an attack in Madrid in 2001 that wounded about twenty people. Several victims’ associations warn that a decision by the European justice system will set the stage for ongoing lawsuits against ETA members. Gaddafi will remain in prison because he has several more sentences for other murders.

The decision of the Strasbourg Court, used by the National High Court to acquit Gaddafi, was taken at the request of another ETA member, Habier Atristen, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison for illegal possession of explosives and membership in a terrorist organization. Atristein has stated before European justice that the statements he made after his arrest are invalid because he was placed in solitary confinement – a figure prescribed by Spanish law for terrorist suspects or members of organized crime groups – which, in particularly important cases, prevents him from in order for the detainee to receive the assistance of a trusted lawyer, he has to be content with a lawyer appointed by the court, with whom, moreover, he cannot meet in advance to prepare his testimony.

The European Court of Justice concluded last January – in a ruling that has remained firm since May 9 – that although this restriction of rights is legal, it necessarily requires a court order directly and individually motivating the reasons for its application, which, in its opinion, does not happened. with Atristein. Thus, the European magistrates found a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on the Right to a Fair Trial in its paragraphs 1 (right to a fair trial) and 3 (right to self-defence or assistance of a lawyer). ) of your choice). Following this ruling, the ETA member was released pending an overturn by the National High Court.

In the case of Gaddafi, the court that acquitted him questioned not the conditions of his detention and subsequent interrogation—he was arrested by French police in February 2000 and subsequently extradited—but four other members of ETA, whose testimony became the main accusation of his participation in attack that cost the life of the former civilian guard Francisco Díaz de Serio on 31 January 1991 in the Otxarcoaga district of Bilbao. At the trial, held in March last year, the prosecutor asked Iglesias Chuzas for this crime 40 years in prison. In their ruling released this Friday, the magistrates concluded that the testimony given by the four ETA members – Raul Angel Fuentes, John Mirena San Pedro, Jesus María Mendinueta and José Manuel Fernandez, previously convicted of other assaults – was given , as in Atristain, after they were placed in solitary confinement, which was then justified on “general grounds” and therefore without providing “sufficient and appropriate reasons” to restrict their right to have access to a lawyer of your choice.

In this sense, the ruling emphasizes the need for sufficient motivation for the application of the incommunicado regime, since under it the detainees remain “in a situation of particular vulnerability, subject to possible pressure, coercion, ill-treatment and, in extreme cases, including possible torture as a way to break their will and become a useful source of information against themselves or third parties. The justification for its necessity, which, he adds, does not appear in the case: “There is sufficient evidence that [las declaraciones] they were held in solitary confinement by both the police and the courts, but without registration of court orders or sufficient reference to the legal grounds contained in the orders to extend solitary confinement,” he adds. For this reason, they conclude that they are unreliable “because they have not been obtained”, in the opinion of the court, “with sufficient guarantees, as well as the freedom of their production, as well as the reliability and truthfulness in terms of their content.”

The decision added that the rest of the evidence presented in the case – two expert opinions prepared by Ertsaints and the Civil Guard, and the testimony of a taxi driver whose car the special forces stole to get to the place of execution of the victim – are “not enough to substantiate a guilty verdict” at the request of the prosecution and the private accusations. “All these signs, at best, allow us to attribute the command of Biscay to [al que pertenecía Gadafi] as a plausible hypothesis, but not being able to establish it in terms of certainty, but, above all, not being able to determine which of its members would participate or how they would do it. For all these reasons, he concludes that there is “an apparent lack of valid and effective evidence” against the ETA member and agrees to his acquittal.

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Iglesias Chuzas has been in prison in Spain since July 2003. He is serving multiple sentences totaling hundreds of years in prison for his role in the murder of eight people. The Department of the Interior placed him in a second-degree prison sentence in December 2020 after he acknowledged prison law and submitted a document confirming the damage he had suffered and his decision never to resort to violence again. Gaddafi, currently imprisoned in Dueñas (Palencia), is one of the nine former ETA leaders against whom the lawsuit is directed, as a result of which National Court Judge Manuel Garcia-Castellón reopened the kidnapping and murder case in July 1997, Miguel Ángel Blanco, then Councilor of the PP in Ermua (Biscay).


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