Historiker inaki egana berichtet uber die folterstudien die im baskenland durchgefuhrt werden. Bild: r. Streck
Criticism of the human rights court is becoming increasingly harsh, because now it is no longer just a matter of the country not investigating torturers
In strasbourg, the air for massive spanish human rights violations is getting darker and darker, even if in germany hardly anyone wants to report on the fact that people are tortured and severely mistreated in an eu country. On tuesday, the european court of human rights (echr) condemned spain for the eighth time in a few years. Whereas previously spain was condemned for not even investigating substantiated allegations of torture, it has now been condemned for proven abuses.
Until now, the echr has always harshly attacked the country for not even investigating the torture of journalists whose newspaper was illegally closed down. In this case the torture was already obvious, even the special court of the "audiencia national" (national court of justice) rejected the confessions. For these basques, too, had confessed under torture to being members of the underground organization eta and they were acquitted.
In the verdict it clearly hieb: "the complaints of mistreatment and torture in the contact block, described in detail in the trial and previously before the investigating judge, and the subject of charges before the courts, are compatible with the expert opinions of forensic physicians, which were drawn up at the time of admission to prison." despite this verdict, the torturers were not searched and sentenced.
Now spain has again been ordered to pay two convicted members of eta a 20.000 and 30.000 euros to pay. For all the judges, it was proven that igor portu and mattin sarasola, after their arrest on 6. January 2008 were severely abused by members of the paramilitary civil guard. Already on the way after the arrest they were mistreated and the torment continued later in the infamous contact block, in which the victims are completely isolated and do not even have contact with their lawyer. Five days in intensive care was the result for igor portu, which probably saved them days of torture and led to evidence to support the action. Because forensic experts established the serious injuries, which were proven not to have existed at the time of the arrest.
Photo of igor portu after torture in the hospital. Photo from the court files.
However, the judges were split on the question of whether the incidents should be classified as severe ill-treatment or torture (as defined by the court). A narrow majority of four judges overruled the minority of three judges who took away the term "star" "torture" not to write into the sentence. For this, according to the majority, there must be a goal, for example, to obtain information. That could not be definitively proven.
Here the spanish system, in which according to a study of the basque government after the end of the dictatorship alone more than 4100 people were tortured, continues to play into the hands of the torturers. A completely isolated person can usually not even prove the abuse suffered, let alone the fact that it is intended to extort information or force confessions. How can this be possible if one does not even have contact with a lawyer and disappears in an unknown torture cellar for up to 10 days?.
The european court of human rights challenges the spanish supreme court
The only example of this in spain is the provincial court in the basque city of donostia (san sebastian), where evidence was collected and 15 officers were charged. Four paramilitaries were finally sentenced in donostia, but the maximum sentence of four and a half years was still quite light for an officer. The remaining three even received only two years.
Doch als das verfahren dann in der nachsten instanz vor dem spanischen obersten gerichtshof verhandelt wurde, der derzeit mit seinen absurden anklagen wegen rebellion und der inhaftierung von friedfertigen katalanischen politikern unangenehm auffallt und juristisch den verdeckten ausnahmezustand der regierung bemantelt, wurde das urteil kassiert. The high court, without investigating, found the charges unjustified and acquitted the paramilitaries.
The strasbourg court denied that the court had taken into account neither the medical certificates nor the first-instance verdict, and had not provided any plausible explanation for the serious injuries suffered by the two eta members. Spain has not only violated the ban on torture "inhumane and degrading treatment" but also against the fundamental right to a fair trial. For this reason, basque parties are now demanding that not only these sentences be overturned and reviewed, but also all sentences in which torture was indicated. The basque government demands that madrid accept the verdict, implement it and take measures to ensure that it does not happen again in the future.
Spanish justice minister rafael catala, clings to the fact that in the verdict was not "torture" and absurdly even wants to see in the renewed condemnation a sign that the spanish system for the protection of human rights "works". It will be interesting to see whether spain appeals and risks that the grand chamber may still come to the conclusion that one must speak clearly of torture.
The verdict could hardly be better, for on 13. February, when it was fallen, is the day against torture in the basque country. Events were held throughout the country to eliminate torture, which is still a reality. At an event in irun, historian and writer inaki egana said that the torture traps identified so far were "only the tip of the iceberg" and he points out that a total of 18 basques were tortured to death and the murderers, even if they were investigated like the guardia civil general galindo, remained almost unpunished, even if they were sentenced to up to 75 years in prison. They got short preferential detention, fast release and pardon.
Nekane txapartegi recounts her torture experiences from zurich, with historian inaki egana on the left. Image: r. Streck
Swiss judiciary is not very strict about the prohibition of torture
The torture victim nekane txapartegi was connected via video conference from her swiss exile. Her case caused an uproar, as switzerland wanted to extradite her to spain and expose her to torture again, while her sentence in spain was long overdue, making switzerland look ridiculous.
Txapartegi explained that she will continue to be prosecuted in spain as she is being investigated there again. Despite all this, switzerland has rejected her asylum application. In its well-known contradictory manner, the swiss judiciary now declares that she was not threatened with any serious disadvantages or persecution in spain, which is why there is no reason for asylum. The decision of the federal administrative court is absurd because it confirms the rejection of the state secretariat for migration (sem), but unlike the sem now also concludes that their allegations of torture are plausible.
Internationally recognized experts, including the un special rapporteur on torture, had demanded that switzerland do the "uncompromising protection of the ban on torture", which switzerland is obviously not prepared to do until today. The situation of baskin is still not secure in switzerland, where her daughter lives and was born in exile.